Yes, we know seashells are cute and work great to create a beach house vibe. Here in Bali you can find them everywhere, Balinese traditional necklaces have them, as well as cute boxes and place mats.
And we were the first ones to fall in love with all the seashell tropical decor, but when we thought about it, something felt wrong…
To have a better understanding of this topic let’s start with the essentials, a seashell is the exterior skeleton of an invertebrate animal and is typically made of calcium carbonate. After that animal has died and been eaten by another sea creature or decomposed, the shell remains empty and up for grabs. Hermit crabs, for example, use snail shells as protection, except for their claws they are fairly soft bodied, but they are not the only ones.
So are there any consequences from picking seashells from the beach?
It seems like such an innocent act, RIGHT? But there are studies that have found that the removal of shells from beaches can damage ecosystems and endanger organisms that rely on shells for their survival.
According to a 30 year study, even picking washed up shells from our beaches can alter the seaside environment. Scientists collected data from a beach on the coast of Spain from 1978 to 1981 and then returned to that same spot from 2008 to 2010, checking for the same three most common species. The results were pretty devastating, the numbers from the second report were almost three times lower (the numbers went from 1,506 to 578 seashells). Those same scientists also collected tourism records directly linking the decrease of shells with the growth of tourism, and by that they don’t only mean beachgoers who pocketed seashells, but many other processes related to tourism that have lead to the removal or destruction of shells (like grooming sand with heavy machinery).
Yes, we know what you are thinking, it is only a couple of shells, but if we all just pick a couple of shells it adds up quickly. And like we always say at Be ALAM every little act matters, so maybe we can stick to pictures or just enjoy the moment for our summer holiday memories.