Photo image by Hitchster via Flickr Creative Commons
With summer here, my mind has turned to planning our annual family beach trip. Images of building sandcastles, splashing in the surf and long walks on the beach fill my daydreams as I count down the days till vacation. As a mom of a nature-embracing little boy, I aim to pass along ways to play and explore the beach that make sure this fragile ecosystem is protected from his well-meaning, oh-so-curious hands.
LOOK AND RELEASE
It’s fun (and educational) to scoop crabs and other sea creatures into a bucket to observe. Just keep in mind that these guys need water to breathe. Even with water in your bucket, a crab will only last 20 minutes before it begins to suffocate. Look – then let them go.
DON’T ROCK IT!
Wondrous discoveries can be made by looking under rocks in tide pools. Just be sure to lift rocks straight up (so you don’t accidentally crush critters hiding underneath) and replace the rocks gently, leaving them as you found them. Many beach creatures find cool, moist homes under rocks, logs and seaweed. If you move or take their home. they might not survive. Check out this video for a rock lifting demonstration.
CLINGING FOR A REASON
Starfish, mussels and other clingy creatures survive waves and predators by hanging tightly to rocks and wharf pilings. If picked off a rock or perch, they rarely survive.
DUNES ARE SENSITIVE
Use dune walk-overs and designated beach access points to cross dunes. This fights erosion by protecting the plants that hold the dunes in place. Dunes are also a popular spot for sea turtle nests and should not be disturbed.
What am I missing? Share other ways we can protect and preserve beaches by leaving a comment below.