Walking along the beach this evening, it was fascinating to see the mangrove, the shells and the abundance of life all around. I was tempted to pick a few shells as souvenirs but then I remembered the conversation we had with the lady who runs the lodge where we are staying. She is very well versed with the local plant and animal life and all matters to do with conservation.
I learnt from her that removal of shells from beaches could damage ecosystems and endanger organisms that rely on shells for their survival. This has been supported by scientific research. It is not just humans picking shells but grooming of sand with heavy machinery for tourism and use of recreational vehicles on the beach that cause a lot of damage to delicate ecosystems.
Seashells are an important part of coastal ecosystems: they provide materials for birds’ nests, a home or attachment surface for algae, sea grass, sponges and a host of other microorganisms. Fish use them to hide from predators, and hermit crabs use them as temporary shelters. The removal of large shells and shell fragments also has the potential to alter the rate of shoreline erosion.
So, instead of pocketing the pretty shells we just took a picture of them and left them on the beach where they belong.