How to be polite to our marine friends
Here is a list of some guidelines to minimize the potential impact a visit to the beach will have on the marine communities living there:
- Leave living animals and plants where you found them. Moving species from one portion of the beach to another or taking them home with you, not only decreases (or eliminates) their chance of survival, it can also effect the survival of other organisms, who may depend on the removed species for their survival (Snively 1989). Tidepools in different regions of the beach have different salinities. A change in salinity can be fatal to organisms.
- Replace rocks to their original position. If you do turn rocks over, do it gently so as not to crush any animals living underneath. Put rocks back the way you found them, again being careful not to crush the animals underneath. If rocks are not put back the way they were found, the animals which have been displaced may die of exposure to the sun and air.
- If harvesting for clams, oysters, mussels and other shellfish, collect only the number you will eat and stay within the government-set limits. Overharvesting threatens species survival. Contact the local Fisheries and Oceans office to obtain information on the minimum size and maximum number harvestable. Inform yourself about "red tide" (which is fatal), if you plan to harvest shellfish.
- Avoid walking on animals. At low tide, many animals such as barnacles, mussels, and limpets, close up to protect themselves from drying out. Their protective shell is vital to their survival. Walking on them can damage and crush organisms.
- Fill in any holes. Unnatural piles of sand from excavated holes may kill other animals whose burrows can no longer reach the surface.
- Leave the beach cleaner than you found it. Human garbage (i.e. plastics) often ends up on the beach. This can kill marine life which either becomes entangled in it or ingests it. It is collectively our responsibility to clean up our garbage!
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