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Orca Community Blog

How to respect the environment while swimming


September 14, 2021


Going to the ocean or lakes in search of that unique sense of freedom in the water is a delight and an adventure for any open water swimmer, but it bears remembering that this must be done in a sustainable and conscious way, with total respect for the environment. This requires taking certain measures into account so that by practicing our favorite sport we don't harm the ecosystem that surrounds us and we can continue to enjoy such an incomparable environment for many years to come. 


First, bear in mind that, without an attitude of respect and consideration, we could end up causing great harm to the environment, without even realizing it. Any lover of open water swimming, apart from enjoying and exploring this sport, should aim to leave no trace of their presence behind in the natural environment. This respect is crucial, not only for the good of the environment, but also for all other swimmers who want to enjoy nature.

When it comes to swimming and enjoying the freedom that water gives us, it is important to remember and implement some basic practices:

• Use a sunscreen that is considered environmentally friendly. Many sunscreens contain chemical ingredients that, when dissolved in water, can affect marine fauna and flora.
• Leave nothing in the water or on the beach, whether it be leftover food or plastic bags and packaging.
• If you see litter, you can pick it up, carry it in your buoy, and then discard it in the appropriate container. This practice is known as eco swimming.
• Take nothing away from the natural environment, such as shells, stones, aquatic plants, algae or corals.


Using the posted access points is important when entering the water, in order to avoid damaging delicate natural areas. Your presence could alter the habitats of the animal and plant species that inhabit the area. Avoid climbing on rocks or walking on top of dry-stone walls and hedges, as these can be important living spaces for mammals, amphibians, birds and plants.

When in doubt, it is always good to ask people who know the area well and who can likely point you toward the appropriate access points. They can also tell you where the most sensitive areas are located.


Along the same lines, when you swim in open water, you should be mindful of the presence of birds, especially during their breeding season. For this reason, you should keep your distance from nesting sites, especially if you swim in lakes or rivers. Places such as river banks, trees, fallen wood, dunes and islands are common areas where birds build their nests to reproduce. Noise or movement near their breeding grounds can have a negative impact and cause adults to abandon nests. Be aware and keep an eye out for any type of activity. 


It is also necessary to be careful and respectful of vegetation found in lakes or natural reserve areas where swimming is permitted. It is recommended that swimmers keep a safe distance from plants to avoid disturbing too much sediment which could impair their growth. Invertebrate species commonly live in areas with abundant vegetation and excessive movement could harm them. 


The most important thing is to be completely aware of your own presence in a natural environment. Try to alter it as little as possible, keeping in mind that you are simply a visitor in an environment that is not yours, and you have to treat it with respect if you want to continue enjoying it.