Do you participate in responsible travel? Chances are you don’t. Most people don’t to be honest. And you can’t blame all of us for this.
Often it takes learning or becoming aware there’s an issue in the first place to be able to change.
But, it also comes down to each individual’s inner preference or beliefs as to whether to act on help solving the issue or just plain ignore them.
A favorite travel destination amongst Americans are the beaches. According to a study published by the Ocean and Coastal Management over 129 million people visit the beaches each year.
And Southern California has an average of 56 million yearly. (1) That’s a lot of people flocking to the coastal shores each year.
With also the increasing of affordability in traveling now humans are more than ever exploring new destinations. So it’s imperative to become a responsible tourist.
What does it mean to be a responsible tourist?
So, you may be wondering what does it mean to be a responsible tourist? Well, there are several measures you can in being a responsible tourist.
Being a responsible tourist just means being consciously aware of decisions you are making when you travel. You’re decisions when traveling to the beaches or anywhere in general play a role in this ecosystem.
Believe it or not.
Why sustainable tourism matter
Sustainable tourism matters because as a traveler you are changing the impact you have when visiting a place.
For instance, when you decide to leave trash on the beaches or participate in recreational activities such as boating, snorkeling you can have an effect on the marine life.
By snorkeling in certain areas where coral reefs are already fragile you are contributing to their destruction.
Either by touching them or by stirring the sediment that disrupts its natural habitat. Even boating disrupts the marine habitat.
Noise pollution from cruise ships, fisherman boats, or tour boats affect whales, dolphins along with other marine wildlife. As stated by the Marine Insight:
“Two main reasons that make environmental impact of noise in marine life especially grave are- firstly noise travels much more in water, covering greater distances than it would do on land while travelling through air, and secondly because the marine life is extremely sensitive to noise pollution.
Due to their extreme reliance on underwater sounds for basic life functions like searching for food and mate and an absence of any mechanism to safeguard them against it, underwater noise pollution disrupts marine life in more serious ways.”
*Full reference below from Marine Insight
As a tourist we aren’t aware of how these recreational activities at the beach play a role with wildlife.
Tips for endorsing responsible travel at the beach?
There are several ways you can as a traveler be a responsible traveler to the beach.
Below we got a few tips for those wanting to learn more about how to become responsible travelers to the beach.
Though, there will be always some individuals who won’t take these tips in consideration I still believe in hope that there are more conscious individuals in this world than those who just don’t give a damn.
Pick up after yourself
The first and most is pretty obvious. Plain and simple “do always pick up after yourself.” The beach is a lovely place to enjoy it with your loved ones and even yourself.
But, it’s also not a place to be left with your garbage. Being a responsible traveler means respecting the oceans or any new destinations.
There are trash bins around the beaches for a reason. Each time you leave your garbage behind you increase pollution amongst the oceans. In which when the tides rise they wash it amongst the sea.
Also, animals by the sea such as turtles and birds can get caught up around the trash. It’s a big no no! Please, don’t stop down to that leave and pick up after yourself.
Leave wildlife alone
I want to believe that the humans who participate in feeding the wildlife at beaches are ignorant. That they lack the knowledge and don’t participate in this act intentionally.
That they are unaware of the consequences they are inflicting on the wildlife. There’s a reason people why wildlife eats different foods from humans for the most part.
Unless, we are having a discussion on fish and plants. But, that’s not what I’m addressing here.
If you look at evolution between Homo sapiens and the animal kingdom you will understand how we came about. How our bellies are also different.
These are some consequences humans do to wildlife when they feed them.
The following information comes from a study published from the Wildlife Ecology and Conservation. (2)
- behavioral problems in the birds—they lose their fear of humans and become aggressive;
- malnutrition from eating foods with low or no nutritional value;
- injuries from swallowing hooks (Figure 1) and nonfood items;
- entanglement in fishing line—which can lead to starvation, loss of a wing or foot, and death;
- injuries from swallowing large fish bones which they cannot digest—large fish bones can puncture a bird’s pouch, get caught in the throat, and even puncture a bird’s stomach;
- becoming tame, losing fear of humans;
- increased spread of disease;
- degradation of water quality (from concentrations of bird feces);
- parent birds who are dependent on humans for food and therefore cannot teach their own young proper foraging techniques to feed themselves.
It’s shocking how seagulls which are one common type of wildlife at the beaches have become our landfills. On a study published by Popular Science scientist found that 80% of 3 gulls species from Canada had debris inside their bellies. From plastic to other trash.
You are doing a disgrace to wildlife when you participate in leaving your garbage behind and feed them. As a responsible traveler acknowledge the wildlife, but leave it alone! Enough said here! You get my point.
Support social enterprises that are leaving legacies
Encourage and support those companies that are doing well for this planet. By, well what I mean is those that are making a better difference, leaving a legacy.
For instance, 4Ocean, is a great example. Founded by 2 guys who where surfers and become shocked at the how much trash was in the waters when they would surf.
This problem triggered motivation for them to take these matters into their own hands that would lead to 4Ocean.
A company who is creating jobs around the world through beach clean ups, education, and selling recycled plastic bracelets.
Another, amazing company is Sand Cloud. Founded by 3 friends from San Diego. They set off on a mission to create beach sustainable products. Their T-shirts are made from recycled plastic bottles.
They give 10% of their profits back into marine conservation organizations. Their mission is to help save Marine Life.
These are a few companies that are shaping our environment in a better way. Become part of the movement and support companies like these.
Support local communities
When traveling to the beaches if possible try to opt out of franchised restaurants and hotels if possible, instead try eating at local mom and pop shops or staying at there hotels.
For instance, if you are in Oceanside Harbor visiting check out these 10 Seafood restaurants. But, one restaurant that I want to point out here is Harbor and Fish and Chips.
Which is a family operated business that has been running for over 40 years. You can learn more about the struggles they endured and how they would become a local favorite place amongst the Oceanside community.
The world is changing whether you want to acknowledge it or not. Humans are living longer than ever before and that’s great news for us. Traveling is also becoming cheaper for us.
However, with an increase of the human species and traveling we need to become aware more of our actions we take daily and how it impacts daily the planet.
We need to encourage responsible travel. From our coastal shores to the land we live in. For we are only given one planet that allows us to breath its air and provide us food from its land.
Actions such as trashing oceans and not recycling are a few examples of what impact we are making. Everything starts with you. You deciding to making change.
I still believe there is more good to us humans.
That there are a majority of us still fighting each day in bringing awareness and making change. Call me ignorant, but I still believe.
After all, like the saying goes, “Hope, dies last.”
(1) Dwight, Ryan H., et al. “Beach Attendance and Bathing Rates for Southern California Beaches.” Oregon Health & Science University, Elsevier BV, 1 Jan. 2016, ohsu.pure.elsevier.com/en/publications/beach-attendance-and-bathing-rates-for-southern-california-beache.
(2) Hostetler, Mark E., et al. “Why Shouldn’t We Feed Water Birds?” EDIS New Publications RSS, Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, 20 Nov. 2018, edis.ifas.ufl.edu/uw193.
(3) Smita, et al. “Effects of Noise Pollution from Ships on Marine Life.” Marine Insight, 9 Dec. 2019, www.marineinsight.com/environment/effects-of-noise-pollution-from-ships-on-marine-life/.
Jess and Jeanette are two sisters who created Unseen Beaches. This beach travel blog was inspired by their family beach vacations taken while growing up. Helping you discover the best U.S. beach destinations worth visiting, staying, and eating at.