Traveling is fun. Going out there and learning about different cultures is a nice way to grow and enrich your knowledge about the world. Tourism is beneficial to locals and their small businesses. But hey, all these are good as long as we engage in responsible tourism.
Nowadays, most out of town trips won’t be complete without taking photos of every activity, every move and every outfit. Sure, there’s no problem with that. To be honest, I do it, too. The problem starts when we do certain things to attain that Instagram-worthy shot by compromising our environment and the organisms living in it.
Just recently, Project Alagalaan, an online campaign that aims to educate people on responsible travel and sustainable tourism, posted a reminder about how stirring up sediments harm corals. Read their full post below.
“At first glance, you may be awed by the aesthetics of the photo! Playing with sand underwater to get that perfect Instagram shot is becoming popular among divers and beachgoers. This ‘stirring of sediments’, however, may be bad for the marine environment, especially when there are corals nearby.
When you stir the sediments:
(1) Suspended sediments contribute to the turbidity of the water. When water column is turbid, less light will be available for corals. Corals require sunlight because their algal symbionts utilize it for photosynthesis.
(2) Sediments will settle on and smother corals. This will not only reduce available light for photosynthesis, but will also impede diffusive gas exchange through coral tissue.
(3) Important biological processes of corals will be compromised. Corals will spend their energy on housekeeping instead of prey capture, growth, or reproduction.
(4) Resuspension of nutrients in the water column (after stirring sediments) will be exploited by algae. Algae will quickly grow and compete with corals.
(5) Small animals will be washed away, increasing their risk of predation.
Please don’t intentionally stir sediments for your next photo on social media. The likes and hearts are not worth compromising the environment over.”
Even World Wildlife Fund (WWF) states that careless tourism is one of the major threats to coral reefs and their habitats.
“Careless tourism: Careless boating, diving, snorkeling, and fishing happens around the world, with people touching reefs, stirring up sediment, collecting coral, and dropping anchors on reefs. Some tourist resorts and infrastructure have been built directly on top of reefs, and some resorts empty their sewage or other wastes directly into water surrounding coral reefs.”
And so, the next time you find yourself exploring out there, make sure to travel responsibly and sustainably. Don’t compromise the environment for a few photos and a couple of likes. Don’t do it for the ‘gram.
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