People who love the sea usually pride themselves on being good stewards of the environment, and luxury yacht owners are no exception. In fact, when it comes to protecting the environment, yacht owners like to lead by example, finding the right balance of enjoying all yachting has to offer, while still minimizing their yacht’s impact on the environment.

Yacht owners have the unique privilege of exploring some of the most amazing places on the planet, such as our fragile coral reefs. The yachting industry often works with marine researchers side by side to find ways to use the seas responsibly, and protect these most precious natural treasures.

One way, which was recently highlighted in the Netflix documentary, Chasing Coral was an advanced underwater camera system created by Colorado Company View Into The Blue (VITB). The camera was specically built for the documentary, so that the film crew could take never before seen time-lapse footage of the bleaching of coral reefs.

What is Coral Bleaching?

Coral bleaching is a phenomena that occurs when corals are stressed by changes in their living environment, such as temperature, light, or the levels of nutrients. When corals are thus stressed, they expel the symbiotic algae living in their tissues, causing them to turn completely white. When a coral bleaches, it does not die right away. Some corals can survive a bleaching event, but they are under more stress and are far more likely to die.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), in 2005, the U.S. lost half of its coral reefs in the Caribbean in one year due to a massive bleaching event, caused by warming waters centered around the northern Antilles near the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Comparison of satellite data from the previous 20 years confirmed that thermal stress from the 2005 event was greater than the previous 20 years combined.

According to the manufacturer, the cameras used for the filming of Chasing Coral were, “uniquely designed for use underwater, with features like windshield wipers, which is what attracted Chasing Coral filmmaker Jeff Orlowski. A particular challenge for the underwater cameras used in Chasing Coral is the algae and microorganisms that accumulated on the device enclosures within hours, reducing visibility and decreasing viewer experience. VITB’s cameras utilize CleanSweep to wipe debris away with no maintenance.”


In addition to advances in underwater imagery, here are the Top Five other ways science and technology are trying to save our coral reefs, that we reported on in 2017.

3D Printing – One way that scientists have long tried to help coral reefs, and coral reef dwelling marine life has been the creation of so-called “artificial reefs.” In the past, this technique usually involved the sinking of vessels, or other large debris, where sea life could eventually take hold. Now, the emerging technology of 3D printing is taking this idea to a new level. Following in the footsteps of his well-known lineage, ocean conservationist Fabien Cousteau has been working with 3D printing to create, expand and restore coral reefs in a partnership with the Caribbean island resort of Harbour Village Bonaire.

Satellite Technologies – Scientist are using satellite technology to monitor the health and conditions of coral reefs worldwide. The European Space Agency (ESA) sponsored a project, called Sen2Coral, which used the EU’s new Sentinel-2a satellite to monitor a reef region in French Polynesia.

Social Media – Marine researchers are encouraging people to use social media to report on the condition of coral reefs and report on signs of “coral bleaching,” a phenomenon that causes the death of corals. This is where you can help. Look for specific projects, websites, or hashtags to report on coral conditions. One such project, The Philippine Coral Bleaching Watch, has been very successful.

Growing Endangered Species – Similar to land-based conservation efforts, where scientists will raise endangered animal species in captivity, and then release them into the wild, marine biologists are rearing endangered and protected coral species in labs, and then transplanting them into the oceans. In one such program, scientists in the Caribbean have managed to get coral grown in a laboratory, to reproduce in the wild for the first time.

Genetic Modification – While there is often a fear of creating “unnatural species,” as in science fiction movies, in reality, scientists are responsibly using genetic modifications to accelerate the evolution of hardier corals. One of the biggest threats to coral identified by researchers is rising water temperature. Scientists in Hawaii have created a “super coral”, which is capable of resisting higher temperatures.


What Can You Do to Make Your Yacht More Environmentally Friendly?

In addition to trying to protect our precious reefs and marine habitats, it is incumbent upon every yacht owner, or yacht charter guest to be responsible users of the sea.

There are many things you can do to lessen your motor yacht’s carbon foot print and environmental impact. In addition to supporting research and introducing greener technologies, the yachting industry and in particular the yacht charter business, is encouraging deeper respect for the fragility of the natural world. This has led to changes in attitudes and behaviors by yacht owners and passengers alike, impacting everything from the ways they enter vulnerable areas to how they handle waste disposal on board.

Whether on a private charter, or your own vessel, there are many things you can do to lessen your yacht’s environmental impact. Try to use organic or “all-natural” products whenever possible, particularly anything you use to clean or detail the outside of your boat, as any of these cleaning products will run off into the water.

Keep rubbish on board in appropriate containers, and be sure to dispose of it properly when in port. Just like at home, try not to waste water while showering, doing the dishes or using the head.

Of course, keeping your engines, and other critical systems well maintained, will increase fuel efficiency, and lessen environmental impact.

As yacht owners we are blessed to be able to enjoy the sea the world over. It is incumbent on ourselves to be proper stewards of the “blue” by being more “green!”

 A key to lessening your vessel’s environmental impact, is keeping her well maintained. On Demand yachting from FYM can help. If you would like to learn more, or if you have any questions or comments about this blog post, do not hesitate to contact our Yacht Management specialists, or call us at (855) 318-6328.



Main Image Courtesy – View Into The Blue –

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