Like so many bird species, humans flock to warmer areas once the cold proves too much to handle. Some of the most popular spots to vacation during the winter are beaches — Miami, Baja California, the Caribbean, Cancun, and more. Often times, in the excitement of the prospect of going somewhere sunny and warm, we plan to maximize our enjoyment but forget to plan so that our environmental impact is minimal. Here are some tips to help you prepare for your trip and lessen your impact on the ocean and the environment!1. Pack your coolers with glass, stainless steel, and other reusable containers
Bringing plastic to the beach often times ends up staying on the beach. Plastic water bottles and bags of chips, once empty, are easily picked up by the wind and end up being transported to other parts of the beach, including to the water! Even when these items are thrown into the garbage, trash overflow caused by the high volume of tourists ends up being blown away by the wind as well.
By pouring bags of chips into hard, reusable plastic containers and bringing stainless steel or hard plastic water bottles, you are less likely to forget to bring these items back home with you. If this is not possible because of constrictions on how much you can carry while traveling out of state and country, make sure to bring your own trash bag for recycling and bring it back to the hotel after your trip. Your hotel will hopefully have a recycling bin!
Did you know that hundreds of metric tons of sunscreen enter the ocean each year? The chemicals in sunscreen have been shown to kill off algae that vulnerable coral reefs depend on. Sunscreen also causes bleaching of coral reefs. This is proof that individual choices add up and can make a large impact. Switching over to ocean friendly and biodegradable sunscreen can actually be better for our skin and for the ocean’s ecosystems. Check out this link to find eco-friendly sunscreens!
3. Respect the turtles and birds
Many seabirds live and nest on beaches. They are extremely prone to stress caused by humans, such as forced flight, accidental disturbance of their nests, loud noises, activity disturbing their resting times, and changes in their feeding areas due to human manipulation. If you see a sign telling you to keep away from a certain area of the beach, chances are that there are endangered sea birds in the area. Respect those signs. Seabirds depend on the oceanic habitat in order to survive and are intricately linked to the ocean’s food chain. To help keep this delicate balance, respect the birds you see at the beach!
Many beaches in Hawaii and South America are known for their sea turtle nesting sights. While a tourist attraction for many, sea turtle conservation is a serious matter — all sea turtle species are endangered. Respect beach rules and keep your distance from any turtles you may encounter on the beach or in the water—stress influences their ability to breed.
4. Pick up trash!
Love long walks along the beach? Pick up some debris while you’re at it! Cleaning beaches while on vacation is a great way to contribute to serving the environment. It’s also a great way to educate children about the importance of littering, recycling, and caring for the ocean and animals. If nature is giving you a fabulous vacation, why not give something back and help clean up?
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