Do Beaches Need Seashells?
Today's episode is brought to you by starbucks. They say that starbucks nitro does for cold coffee. What music does for workouts road trips in grand. Romantic gestures sound too good to be true. Guess we'll just have to try it for yourself. Starbucks nature cold brew. It's called coffee that subtly sweet lush and velvety smooth only at starbucks welcome to brainstorm a production indivi- heart radio. Hey brain stuff. Lauren vogel bomb here. We humans tend to enjoy the ocean so it makes sense that we'd want to take a piece as of at home with us but be warned beachside souvenir hunting can land you in prison. If you go overboard case in point early in summer of two thousand eighteen a texas access woman was fined five hundred dollars and sentenced to fifteen days in jail by a florida judge for illegally harvesting forty. Queen conch shells her key west vacation. Queen conches are marine greene's nails who live in gorgeous shells of their own making florida allows people to collect the vacant shells but it's illegal to take one. That's still occupied by alive conch. The shells of the aforementioned i mentioned texan took had living breathing molluscs in them. Florida has a vested interest in these nautical treasures on the shell loaded island of santa bell a barrier community near fort myers beach coming as a major draw for tourists and when residents noticed their precious commodities were vanishing. They took action in the late. Twentieth century local local started worrying that out of towners repelling too many shells as a conservation measure. Santa bell banned the collection of any shells with their original mollusks still living inside as well as does any sand dollars starfish and sea urchins. The ban took effect in nineteen ninety five and has since been extended throughout santa bell's home county. If you've noticed shell depletion on the beaches he visit know that it's not just a matter of light fingered vacationers organized poaching has become a serious global concern. We spoke by email with vincent instant nyman an anthropology professor at oxford brookes university in the united kingdom and a twenty fifteen study he co authored nyman documented the illegal trade of indonesia's protected shells calls the indonesian government keeps a list of molluscs that are illegal to trade or collect within the republic's jurisdiction chambered nautilus triton's trumpets and some giant clams are among the creatures ostensibly protected by law there yet poaching is rampant. Neiman's paper tells of twenty illegal shipments were intercepted by the indonesian authorities between in two thousand eight and two thousand thirteen but together these busts yielded more than forty two thousand shells a protected species valued at seven hundred thousand dollars nyman even said it's very important to note that we're not talking about individual tourists collecting a couple of shells on the beach putting them in their suitcase and bring them home. We're talking about a large scale commercial trade where the shells are collected by active fishing scuba diving cages etc and where entire sections of the ocean floor are emptied he stresses the poachers like to grab occupied shells and then destroy animals within them. He explained that when the animals are alive their shells are usually excellent condition as opposed to shells that have been discarded and washed washed up on the beach which are often damaged mosques aren't the only animals who've been hurt by the reckless over hunting of sea shells when sales nautilus and other sea animals die of natural causes other creatures like to move into their former shell homes we also spoke by email with michael kousky an ecologist at the university of florida he he said the most obvious examples are hermit crabs which use empty shells as protective armor. There are in fact many marine habitats. It's hard to find an empty shell because hermit crabs inhabit but almost all of them when there aren't enough shelters go around hermit crab populations are curbed and housing is just one service that unused shells offer some sea creatures creatures and birds eat them for mineral supplements calcium carbonate others use the sturdy shells as anchors from other mollusks barnacles and many more the harvest of these shells isn't just bad for the local ecosystem. It's also bad for the environment and ultimately for the humans who live and visit their take yoga beach a lovely slice of the iberian peninsula tesla located in sao paulo spain hot vacation destination. That's enjoyed increasing popularity wanting to know more about how this rise and human activity was affecting the ecosystem colo. The ski rolled up his sleeves and hit the scene from july of nineteen seventy eight through july of nineteen eighty-one. He and his colleagues put together monthly catalogs of all the seashell material they could find on your a beach kulakowski returned decades later for a new round of surveys beginning in two thousand eight and ending in two thousand ten. His discoveries weren't encouraging tourism data revealed field an almost three fold increase in visitation between one thousand nine hundred and twenty ten during that same period the number of seashells on your beach fell by more than sixty percent coincidence incidents probably not other beachside communities should be worried about the same kind of decline in seashells and not just for environmental reasons shells tend to break up into particles that are bigger than typical sand grains these shell fragments helped beaches fight erosion by locking up making it harder for winds waves and water currents to move shoreline shoreline sediment around if we moved to many sea shells it'll become harder for beaches to resist the forces of erosion and that it affects short side buildings roads and other infrastructure so what's the solution nyman notes in many countries. There are excellent laws in place to prevent overharvesting companies and individuals should follow the existing existing regulations and the authorities should enforce them. It is an economic crime and should be handled such he added the prosecutors. Judges must take large-scale poaching operations more seriously. Today's episode was written by mark manzini whose name i've been mispronouncing for about about two years now and it was produced by tyler clang brain stuff is a production of iheartradio's. How stuff works for more on this and lots of other multidisciplinary topics visit our home planet has works dot com and for more podcasts from iheartradio iheartradio app apple podcasts or wherever you listen to your favorite shows today's episode is brought to you by the capital one venture card when you earn unlimited double miles on every purchase your next trip is closer than you think. What's in your wallet.