May 31, 2018

Sustainable tourism community Project Alagalaan posted a photo of a group of tourists holding what seemed to be live corals, which drew a lot of hate from concerned netizens, earlier this week.

The post read, “Corals are not souvenirs! To compensate for failing to see dolphins, the group of tourists decided to pick some corals, instead.” People were quick to respond with their dismay of the situation, saying that corals should be left in the ocean and not to be treated as a keepsake from your travel.

In case it’s not yet clear enough for you, here are a few important things you should know about corals and coral reefs:

Reefs serve as ecosystems

Think of them as ‘big cities’ of the sea. There are some coral colonies that have small crabs and shrimps living in them, and these animals help defend their homes, protecting the corals in the process.

They are highly sensitive to touch

As Project Alagalaan put it, corals are sensitive to being touched. It can cause breakage, tissue damage, and even diseases.

Coral colonies can grow over thousands of years

…which is why you should NEVER break them and take them home as your precious souvenirs. Coral blocks (like the one in the photo) or coral polyps are tiny, soft-bodied organisms similar to sea anemones and jellyfish. They have a limestone skeleton called calicle, which forms the structure of the coral reefs. As they grow over hundreds and thousands of years, they connect with other colonies to form reefs.

The next time you visit the ocean, stick to souvenir thingamabobs and leave the corals alone. They’re not yours to keep.

Header courtesy of Unsplash

 

Read more:

Going to the beach? Keep an eye out and avoid these creatures

Everyone wants to be an environmentalist these days

Bring the ocean into the city

Read more by Bea Llagas:

Here’s a sunscreen that corals will love

TAGS: beach coral reef corals environment fixture nolisoliph Project Alagalaan tourism