We all damage the environment in some way. We do it by driving, recycling poorly, consuming energy resources or using harmful materials. What you may not have known is that if you’ve ever done something as seemingly harmless as picking up shells from the beach, you’re also damaging the environment. It sounds like a joke, but it’s not: according to experts it’s a serious threat for which the consequences have not been calculated.
human influence is depleting the shell beaches, especially when two factors are involved: that the area is touristic, which multiplies the human effect, and that the shells in the area are beautiful.
Collecting seashells, even the dead ones you find in the sand, has a great impact on the ecosystem of the beach. Okay, we know you only pick up a handful, but considering that the beaches of the Dominican Republic are visited by millions of tourists every year, the numbers count.
In fact, in the Dominican Republic there are areas protected by the country’s environmental organization such as Saona Island, where it is prohibited to collect seashells or remove anything that could affect or alter the biodiversity of the area.
There are studies that confirm the relationship between the increase of tourists in summer and the percentage of seashells that disappear. They determine that, in some cases, if tourism increases by 30%, shells are reduced by 60%.
To date, it is believed that tourists are the only factor that seems to have influenced the loss of these shells.
Among other functions of the sea shells, its function as a habitat for species such as the hermit crab stands out. They also serve as protection for some fish that seek to defend themselves from their predators.
Further erosion of the beaches. It may be that the next time you go to that particular beach there will be less sand.
Also, some algae, sea sponges, sea grasses and other micro organisms adhere to them.
Take nothing but pictures. Leave nothing but footprints.
These small shells are part of a life cycle, as clams and small oysters need calcium carbonate to develop their own shells and absorb these elements from dead shells that erode over time.
In the water, their presence is critical, because without them, the pH will acidify, resulting in less reef and therefore less marine life.
But not everything stays at sea level, even birds need the shells to build their nests in the territories surrounding the beach.
Next time you go to the beach and are tempted to pick up a nice shell, think that there are animals that need it to survive.