Imagine, you are on holiday walking down beautiful white beaches with the ocean blue surrounding you and a soft breeze flowing around you. As you walk down the beach you come across a beautiful sea shell and pick it up to bring home as a remembrance of a perfect holiday. A few hours later in that same spot a hermit crab who is growing too big for his shell comes to that area in search of a new home, unfortunately he can not find a shell the right size, all of them are either too big or too small. Is it possible that the one shell you put in your pocket was the perfect shell for him?
As I am sure everyone has already heard at least once in their life, especially those that travel, “Take only photographs and leave only footprints” . This modo should be followed in all aspects of travel and nature. It is easy to think that you are only one person, taking just one shell, but that is what everyone thinks, so eventually everyone is taking a shell. If there are only the same number of hermit crabs that live on our Soneva Fushi beach as there are visitors within a year, the odds are not good for the crabs.
This rule applies for all souvenirs from the sea, the majority of sea shells, starfish, corals, sharks teeth and turtle shells are not just collected from the beaches by a single person. These items are most likely taken straight from the sea, from living animals, in order to decorate your home. Be weary of labels, as they are usually dishonest or not certified. Instead support local handicrafts, such as the beautifully decorated wooden pens that are hand crafted in front of your eyes by an artistic and talented old man who does what he loves to do. In addition to being beautiful it is useful too!
Shells not only provide housing for hermit crabs, they have a variety of important environmental functions. All shells, no matter the size, shape, or color play a role as a stabalizer for the beaches, helping reduce erosion and eventually breaking down to become that beautiful white sand between your toes. When they are washed back into the sea, small fish use the shells as a shelter to hide from predators, while sea grass and algae use them as a substrate to latch onto. Birds will collect them in order to build a sturdy nest. And the list goes on.
So next time you see her selling seashells that come from the shore, think twice about buying. Help spread the world of ‘take only pictures, leave only footprints’.
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