Thursday, May 15, 2014

Raping the Beach: A tale of tourism

The wonderful oceans provide so much that one has to wonder why everyone isn’t trying to protect this aspect of Mother Nature and its innumerable creatures, both large and ultra-small.  We’ve begun to pave huge expanses with garbage (read that plastics) and, in the process, started to strangle this wonder. The maps may show The Sargasso Sea, but keep in mind that it may stand for “The Sea of Garbage.” Actually, it’s got a lot of good going on there with eels and other sea life, but it can catch garbage, too.

Closer to home and to our own living situation, we find “waste management” companies dumping their loads into open waterways and littering our beaches with medical waste. Ever wonder where some of those syringes and other medical paraphernalia end up? Why do you suppose we have beach patrols? The oceans are seen as dumping grounds and, when done in darkness of night, who is going to stop them?

Now, let’s get down to the more micro level. No, not microscopic, but the walk-on-the-beach type. I went walking on a well-known beach recently and watched as European tourists lay on the beach for hours exposing their skin to the future glories of skin cancer, I’m sure. They didn’t care. They were there for the tan and they intended to not leave without one. I wondered why they didn’t just strap themselves to some type of rotisserie device to make sure they were evenly exposed.

Sun going down? Okay, let’s just dispense with those signs that indicate you shouldn’t remove live sea life from the shore and go hunting shells—even those living beneath the sand in the shallow water. Dig’em out! Get them and scoop out those living animals and toss them back into the water. The shell is all we’re here for.

 Walking down the beach, camera in hand, I pass a young woman and her daughter. The girl is cavorting in the water while mom, looking at me askance, slyly turns over the shell she’s holding. She doesn’t want me to see the living creature still inside that she is working to remove. It’s an act so reprehensible I want to say something, but I don’t. I’ve had my fill of mildly heated discussions around leaving Mother Nature alone.

I also do not say anything to the people who are obviously “clamming” in the shallow waters where they are digging up yet more clam-like creatures. I know the town doesn’t want to discourage tourists and they won’t do anything about this. They probably haven’t even thought about the older guy who is flying a drone just over the head of people standing on the beach. Just who will be sued if that device suddenly lands on someone’s head and causes a face or eye injury? Sue’em all, me hearties!

I’m reminded of the signs I’ve seen in wildlife preserves that tell you to “Take all the photos you want but take nothing else and leave only footprints behind.” These people are taking pictures and everything else they can get their hands on. They’re got bags full of shells and I can only wonder which were just shells and which were shells after a bit of tourist surgery on them.

Again, I ask myself if money is all that matters and tourism will always win. I recall the people telling me of the wonderful cruises to private islands where they swam with porpoises. I wondered if this was good for those wonderful animals in terms of their health and their sanity. Yes, I said sanity because we shouldn’t be so incredibly ignorant as to think they don’t have feelings and think. They are imprisoned in lagoons or pools for the pleasure of tourists. Is this any kind of life to live? No. I’m also reminded of the capture of young orcas and it’s so “Planet of the Apes” time for me.

Those who work to protect the oceans are heroes to me and I applaud their efforts although I know they are often depicted as criminal types. How are they criminals? Of course, they interrupt “research” vessels in their work of killing, capturing and slaughtering whales in their factory ships marked as “research” Oh, I guess I don’t know anything about research. Sorry about that. Dumb me. There are, after all, all those “researchers” waiting onshore to taste the fruits of the ocean the “research” ships have brought back for them.