How to Be a Responsible Tourist? Contribute to Marine Conservation during Your Holiday
Most people enjoy going on vacation to the seaside. What can be more pleasant than sunbathing, swimming or, maybe, boating or scuba diving? However, while on vacation, you should not forget about protecting the environment. You surely want your children or grandchildren to enjoy the beauties of the sea.
Here are a few minor things you can do, which are of great help to marine wildlife:
- Keep the local vegetation intact. You probably like walking on coastal sand dunes and admiring the plants that grow there. These hardy organisms hold the sand in place, so they are extremely important to the ecosystem. Do not hurt them, and do not remove dead plants, either, because they fertilize the dunes.
- Protect tidepools. Many interesting creatures are to be found in such pools, in intertidal areas. Do not step on them or harm them in any way!
- Leave corals undisrupted. Diving to see magnificent corals is one of the most enjoyable activities you can do on your holiday. However, keep in mind that corals are fragile and hard to regenerate. They are already affected by pollution and other noxious factors, so you should not harm them any further. Do not touch them!
- Do not litter. While sunbathing, you may eat, drink, or do whatever you want, but always remember to put your trash in the trash bins. If these are not available, simply put it into a bag and properly dispose of it when you can. Otherwise, your trash will simply get into the sea and harm the indigenous wildlife.
- Join beach clean-up actions. Such clean-ups are regularly organized by local communities. Getting involved in one of them is a pleasant and, at the same time, useful way of spending your time on the beach, together with your family and friends.
- Anchor properly. When you go boating, be careful where you drop your anchor. It is best to use only specially designated places. This is because anchoring can affect coral reefs or submersed vegetation. While your anchor alone may not cause much trouble, keep in mind that you are just one of thousands of tourists doing the same thing.
- Use environment-friendly paints and cleaning agents for your boat. Any boat needs proper maintenance. However, most chemicals used for this are toxic, and they will surely get into the sea. So, do some research and find the least toxic solutions possible.
Many people love marine wildlife. Some of them like eating seafood, others like to have marine animals in their aquariums. No matter what your situation is, there are some easy things you can do in order to protect the environment.
Keep in mind that, while the world’s oceans offer us lots of valuable resources, these are not infinite. One of the biggest threats to marine ecosystems is overexploitation. Excessive fishing and harvesting are the cause of huge damage to wildlife, overcoming its regeneration capacity.
How can you avoid that?
You probably enjoy eating fish, mussels, oysters and the like, but keep in mind that the high demand for such foods is one of the main causes many species are on the verge of extinction.
The solution to this is sustainable fishing, i.e. harvesting natural resources at a rate which allows natural regeneration of wild populations.
Another solution is aquaculture, even though, sometimes, it can have unwanted effects.
Here are some useful ideas:
- Buy only sustainably harvested seafood. If there are stores specializing in this type of products in your area, you should support them as much as you can.
- When you go to a restaurant and wish to eat seafood, always ask for sustainable choices. Advise your family and friends to do the same.
- Never eat endangered species, no matter how good they taste.
Responsible Pet Owning
While some enjoy marine wildlife on their table, others like it in their aquariums.
Indeed, having such animals as your pets can be nice, but there are a few things that you should consider:
- Always ask how the animals were collected and from where. Fishing for such purposes can be extremely damaging, so you should choose animals caught in a sustainable and non-invasive manner.
- Do not exaggerate. While having some wild-caught fish in your aquarium is enjoyable, there is no reason to keep huge numbers of them.
- Do not release your pets into the sea, especially if they are not specific to that ecosystem. Introducing exotic, invasive species can be extremely harmful, because the local food chains can be disturbed or new diseases can appear in the local animal populations.
Choose Souvenirs Carefully
When you travel to various part of the world, you may be tempted to buy souvenirs made of local marine animals. These may include coral and shell jewelry, objects made of turtle shell, starfish, etc. Do not do it! You can choose lots of other objects that do not exploit wildlife and that will always remind you of your holiday.
How to Prevent Seawater Pollution? Your Daily Contribution to Marine Conservation
One of the most serious problems affecting marine and ocean ecosystems is pollution.
What can you do about this? Well, first of all, you should know that all water bodies are somehow connected. So, even if you live far from any coast, the pollution your daily activities cause will still affect the ocean. Streams, rivers and underground water eventually carry the pollutants to the nearest marine area.
Thus, one of the main things any person should do for ocean protection is to responsibly dispose of waste products.
Here are some ideas:
- Limit the use of fertilizers. No matter how natural they are, fertilizers eventually reach water bodies, where they affect the balance between various types of microalgae. This causes the so-called “algal blooms”, wreaking havoc among marine wildlife, through anoxia and toxic byproducts.
- Avoid pesticides. Find alternative ways to deter pests. These compounds are toxic and should not get into the sea. Also, try to buy pesticide-free vegetables and fruits, to avoid any runoff when you wash them.
- Do not use toxic chemicals for cleaning, painting, polishing etc. For clean-up, choose low-phosphate detergents or natural products, like vinegar or lemon juice.
- Never dispose of toxic compounds in your drains. Motor oil, solvents or paint are fastidious pollutants.
- Be careful with dumping heavy metal-containing items. Batteries, fluorescent light sources or thermometers need to be disposed of only through special recycling programs.
- Recycle plastics. Plastic garbage has a long lifespan and it poses a major threat to marine wildlife. Plastic should always be recycled and never simply discarded.
- Limit the use of plastics. By using reusable bags, containers and other items like these, you make a great service to the environment. Also, avoid buying balloons. While they may be fun, wind often carries them to the sea, where they can cause lots of troubles. Intestinal occlusions are a common (and extremely painful) cause of death among marine birds and turtles.
- Never discard any kind of waste on soils or in any water body.
- Regularly have your plumbing checked. This way, you avoid polluting leaks.
- Keep your eye on your septic system. It needs to be regularly inspected and, obviously, pumped out. Sewage contains lots of microbes that threaten animal life and are also a major hazard for human beings in the area, not to mention that it affects the microbial balance in marine ecosystems, with potentially harmful effects.