Don’t you feel guilty about collecting seashells? Apparently some people think you should.
When I found this article entitled, “Hey Tourists: Leave Those Shells on The Beach Would Ya?” at the Care2.com site, I had to read it. And then I shook my head.
After all, I write about collecting seashells and that post is saying it is not a good idea. But what is the reasoning behind this? Well, I read that tourism to beaches has increased so much that the collecting of seashells is in danger of hampering the coastline. Shells that could be used by hermit crabs as homes, and by sea birds as nesting material (huh?), and in beach stabilization. Okay, the study was done over a 30 year period on beaches in the Mediterranean, where tourism to the coast has increased three fold.
Sorry folks but I find it incredibly hard to believe that tourists are collecting THAT many seashells and taking them back home. How much room do you leave in your suitcase for shells when you take a vacation to the shore? And even if they are significantly hoarding shells, these are most likely empty shells. What about the living organisms that are dredged up with fishing nets, and selected for food, and sold in shops? These are the ones doing the most damage, not a simple vacationer.
Also the damage done to the coast from building, driving on the sand and polluting the water has to be much greater. And the study says that this was mainly a way to account for shell loss due to beachcombing, and nothing else. But it definitely places the most blame on tourists. In fact it is titled: Vanishing Clams on an Iberian Beach: Local Consequences and Global Implications of Accelerating Loss of Shells to Tourism. Read the whole study here.
So do we see negative effects from shell collecting? I haven’t heard of any. Just a doomsday story about how tourists are silently wrecking the beaches. What I find incredibly typical is that all the comments after the “Hey Tourists” post have people apologizing for shelling, and promising to never do it again. Lemmings.
Go ahead and take a few (unoccupied) shells home people… good grief.