Researchers out of the University of Florida have recently released findings in the PLOS ONE journal describing the increase in seashell loss in popular beaches and the effects that such actions are having on the local ecosystems.
Main author, Michal Kowalewski, focused his study on the Llarga Beach in Barcelona, Spain as the area experienced a 70 percent decline in mollusk shells during the peak summer season. The seashell removal, which occurs when tourists take them as souvenirs, is not signifying any serious environmental changes as of yet, however scientists are stating that the issue should not be overlooked as a variety of marine wildlife are being displaced by these actions.
Since a variety of marine wildlife rely on shells for protection, birds for nests, and the beach for stabilization, a possible remedy to the unintended consequences removing shells presents is to limit the amount of shells tourists can collect at any given time. With these restrictions in place, such a drastic change to the local ecosystem would not occur and wildlife would not be as affected.
As spring break approaches and many plan their trips to beaches nationwide, the importance of curbing the loss of seashells has become incredibly important. Hopefully, the new findings will lead many tourists to change their traveling habits and choose other souvenirs that will not negatively impact the local areas. This way, not only will the travelers be happy but the environment and its inhabitants as well.