Part of the decline of coral reefs is attributed to the physical damage caused by divers. Consequently, active efforts are being invested to mitigate the diving pressure on and around natural reefs. We measured the effect of artificial reef (AR) placement on the diving behaviors of divers in training in the Red Sea's Gulf of Eilat on the southern tip of Israel. Dive groups were followed, and their diving times in an adjacent marine protected area (MPA) and surrounding natural coral outcrops were recorded. Time spent inside the MPA did not change. However, in-training divers reduced their times in the MPA and at two adjacent coral outcrops following AR deployment, but they did not alter other elements of their dives; coral transplantation did not affect diving behavior. A dive entry point located at least 90-m from the border of the MPA was sufficient to reduce dive time in the MPA. The AR had only a partial impact on diver behavior. Accordingly, future projects should take into account location, size, aesthetics, and the target visitors of the ARs.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Aquatic Science
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law