HAWAII KAI (KHNL) - A new study released Thursday, finds that scuba divers are willing to pay higher prices to see a healthy ocean ecosystem.
Scuba divers are considered the ambassadors of the ocean.
"The density of life underwater is so great that that's why people go, they love it," said Island Divers owner Matt Zimmerman.
And they are willing to pay more to see it. Scuba divers contribute more than $4 million to costal economies each year. There are 77 dive retailers in Western Hawaii alone.
"The reason they are going is to see that marine life, they're not going just for the experience of scuba diving they are going for what are we going to see while we are scuba diving." Zimmerman said.
In fact, 71 % of the divers surveyed said they would pay $35 more for a chance to see sharks while on a dive. That extra charge would go to protecting living ocean resources. And could bring $212 million annually to marine Conservation.
"The interesting thing about that is it's incredibly more than the amount of, the overall value of the fishing industry, or the shark fishing industry specifically." Oceana Dive Program Coordinator, Suzanne Garrett said.
"From an economic viewpoint it doesn't surprise me at all that marine life is more valuable in place than it is on somebodys plate."
That's why scuba divers who do see what's under the water are the forefront of marine Conservation.
The new study also finds that 76% of participants were willing to pay $30 more for the chance to see a sea turtle in the wild.