Be more thoughtful when visiting beaches

Visitors to beaches should not wear sunscreen that could damage coral, and should refrain from collecting seashells as "souvenirs", as they are important building blocks of the coastal environment.
Visitors to beaches should not wear sunscreen that could damage coral, and should refrain from collecting seashells as "souvenirs", as they are important building blocks of the coastal environment.ST FILE PHOTO

As a National University of Singapore (NUS) alumnus, I was disappointed with the complete disregard the students on the sailing trip had for Indonesian laws, and their lack of environmental awareness (Outcry over students' giant clam shell photo"; Feb 1).

When I visited Tioman for an NUS course on appreciating nature, the group was informed not to wear sunscreen that could damage coral and also to refrain from collecting shells.

Unbeknownst to most, seashells are the building blocks of coastal environments.

They act as shelters for crabs, and fish hide in them to avoid predators.

They are also an important building material for birds' nests and provide a surface for sea grass, algae, micro-organisms and sponges to attach to.

Studies show that the extraction of shell fragments and large shells from shores can affect the rate of shoreline erosion.

Despite this, most of us might be tempted to collect "souvenirs" from our beach holidays and might not understand how every individual's action can add up when it is done collectively.

I hope that all faculty members in the university will consider this when taking their studentsout on any trip to enjoy nature.

Sumita Thiagarajan (Miss)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 02, 2017, with the headline 'Be more thoughtful when visiting beaches'. Print Edition | Subscribe