Many who travel abroad will buy some souvenirs back home. Unfortunately, not all have the knowledge that some souvenirs are a threat to nature and local ecosystems. Shells, corals and other souvenirs from the sea are common in many places around the world.
Like the sea or care about nature? Then you should never buy any of these 5 souvenirs below. Read more and learn what things you should look out for when shopping souvenirs abroad.
1. Coral Jewelry
Corals are an important part of the seas and reefs, and without them, the ecosystem will get out of balance. This may mean that some parts of the sea completely die out. Unfortunately, they sell corals in many countries, especially poorer countries. The corals are often collected at sea and then sold at markets and souvenir shops.
Because corals are an important feature for the marine life, you should never buy any coral, regardless of how well one thinks it is. Coral washed up on shore is more okay to take home, but not really because they are still part of the ecosystem.
2. Shell from Sea turtles
Many of us love sea turtles and dream about to swim with them. Unfortunately, however, far too many tourists buy souvenirs made from the shell of sea turtles. And if you think the shell only come from sea turtles that died of natural causes, then you’re wrong.
Most of them are killed and gathered from the sea. The shells or jewelry made of a shell is then sold for expensive sums. Sure, sea turtle shells look exclusive and beautiful, but it doesn’t belong anywhere else except on top of the sea turtle.
The illegal trade in shells from sea turtles has contributed to the extent that four of the five species are threatened with extinction. Never buy anything that comes from the sea turtles, regardless of whether the seller claims it’s from a sea turtle that died naturally or not.
3. Spiral Shells
Like picking delicate shells from the beach? Then I want to tell you that those spiral shells are actually other creature’s home. For each spiral shell you take, there will be some animal without home and shelter. Examples of an animal that is dependent on the spiral shells are Hermit crabs.
It is not just large shells in which they live, but also smaller shells that may seem harmless to pick.
4. Dried animals
Seahorses, starfish, and other marine animals collected from oceans and dried on land, and then sold to tourists. These are available as whole animals or decorations in various souvenirs. Obviously, this is not right and something that you never should support.
Unfortunately, many people do not seem to think this far and instead think it’s cool to buy souvenirs containing dried animals. If you are one of these, then I hope you learn and never again support this trade.
I am the first to agree that the starfish and sea horses are fierce and beautiful creatures, but they belong in the sea and not on land or in an aquarium. If the trade continues, many of these sea creatures may face extinction.
Most people think that there is no harm at all in buying pearls, but that’s not entirely true. If you support the trade of real pearls, you also indirectly encourage animal cruelty.
Watch the video below to see how pearls are created naturally.
The only reason that pearls are created, is by discomfort and irritation inside the clam and Oyster’s mantle. But because the process is so slow naturally (up to 3 years), and that far from all of them produce pearls, mankind has learned on how to “grow” beads faster.
The process is similar and it requires inserting tissue from another clam/oyster which then irritates and force them to produce a pearl. Oysters and mussels are being exploited for profit, and less than half of them survive. If that weren’t enough, they also spend their entire life in various water cages or nets in wait of becoming mature enough.
In other words – Animal Abuse. Although we may not think of clams and oysters being animals, those are still living beings who deserve to be free and not exploited.
But, don’t the sales help the locals?
Well, in short term only a small part of the local population will be helped by sales. But, and a big but, it is only short term. What do you think happens when the beaches and the ocean die? Fewer tourists, which then becomes less income and more poverty.
If the oceans die out, it may additionally happen more nasty things to the community in addition to fewer tourists. When the ecosystem is disturbed, nature changes and it is rarely for the better. Many of these communities subsist on fishing to feed their families and there are no fish in the sea, there will be less food and income.
Everything is linked and it is important to spread this knowledge to the locals.
What you should do instead
1. Take pictures
We buy souvenirs as gifts or memories. But there are plenty of other gifts to buy or make yourself, at least as funny and nice as souvenirs from the sea. The difference? Nature does not hurt (unless you buy anything that is bad for the environment).
When it comes to memory, you can instead take pictures. Hang on the wall or frame the image or save it to an external hard drive.
2. Take nothing and leave nothing behind except footsteps
A very good expression is that you should not leave any rubbish behind on the sites you visit. Nor should you disturb wildlife and the ecosystem. And above all, do not pick up the things from there.
3. Buy local crafts
Souvenirs are always fun to bring home but buy instead local crafts that are not harmful to the environment. When you do this, you also support the locals, giving them more income. Avoid buying at the airport and buy your souvenirs rather in villages or in local craft stores.
4. Encourage local people to preserve the sea
It is important to spread knowledge and if the locals realize what is happening and that there are other sources of income, they will instead want to preserve the ocean, which is important for everyone’s survival.