Footprint In The Coral

Imagine you are in a jeep or in an ordinary bus bound to your favorite beach destination. Then you ate a candy or a chocolate bar, do you throw the wrapper outside the vehicle?

Imagine you are in a boat with your friends. You are taking your favorite chip snacks. After finishing the snacks, where do you throw the empty pouch?

Then you got thirsty. You saw the water dispenser in the boat. You remember you bought some plastic cup earlier. You get one plastic cup and filled it water and drank it. Then you put the empty plastic cup just beside you. The wind blew, your plastic cup went in to the sea.

Then the boat reached the snorkeling site. You saw some white buoy floating around your location. You wondered what are those things for. Then the boat crew threw the anchor in your snorkeling spot. You were, at first, afraid to take a dip. But eventually you snorkeled. Then you saw that the anchor of the boat was in the coral you are looking.

Then your boat went to your next island destination. Upon reaching the island, this time smaller paddle boats were approaching your boat. You learned that the small paddle boats will be used to shuttle you to your next snorkeling site, because the snorkeling area is too shallow and the snorkeling area is still far away. The man paddling the boat is telling you that availing their services would also help the locals there to earn some income. You felt happy about that. Then you were brought to the snorkeling spot. Time to snorkel! But it was so difficult to go down from the paddle boat. Then you were able to go down, but you noticed you stepped on something. Good thing you were wearing your aqua shoes. Then you took a dip and snorkeled. And then you realized that you just stepped upon a soft coral where a clown fish (Nemo) was staying.

You can still see your footprint in the coral.

Time to go back to the resort where you are staying. Time to refresh and relax. When you reached the lobby of the resort to get your room key. You noticed that you know that person in the lobby desk. She was your high school friend. Great! You chatted for a while. How did she ended up in this remote place in this resort? Then you learned that most of the resort staff came from Manila just like your high school friend.

Now it is time to go home. But before going back home, you must buy a souvenir. You noticed just outside of the resort gate, there were tables with some sort of beads or necklace. They were selling bracelets, pendants, necklace, earrings, and charm made from various stone. What struck you was the very black pendant and the red necklace. When you asked what it is made of, they told you that is made of black coral and red coral. And you liked it very much! Would you buy it?

You are going home. You hailed a jeep in this remote beach resort. Your friends decided that you want to travel comfortably, and so you would just rent the whole jeep to your group. A person from the beach resort came out and approached you. And he was asking if he can join the ride with your group since he wanted to travel cheaply. But you were suspicious, and this person is a stranger, and so you rejected his suggestion.

Finally home at last! Reminiscing the pictures you took, it was all fun. The shots were great! And the events were very hilarious. Wow, it was truly a trip to remember.

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The trip could have been more fun and worthwhile if you were able to preserve and conserve the place you went to. The trash you threw, either intentionally or accidentally, would most probably contribute nature’s destruction. The road that leads to this resort might get flooded next year, who knows. The snorkeling spot you visited might be degraded next year because of the pollution that comes there.

And should you want to see again next year the clown fish you saw, probably it won’t be there anymore because the coral where the fish is living is already destroyed. And with not much tourist around, the local boat men would return back to their old way of fishing.

And since the resort there mostly employs people from Manila rather than the locals there, the local fisher folks will return to fishing. And perhaps other locals there will have no work.

And since you bought that pendant made from black coral, the locals see this as opportunity to have decent income. The next time you go back there, probably there would more stalls there selling various stones and beads.

And since you preferred to travel exclusively by that jeep, two vehicles were used instead. One jeep for your group and one tricycle for the solo traveler. This means more fuel was used. Therefore more carbon print was added to the environment.

Tourism is pleasurable, yes. But it also brings in destruction of the environment. And small acts that seems non-sense could really be a great step for environment preservation and conservation. And with this, tourism could be helpful in nature protection.

Usually we don’t notice that we bring in nature destruction when we visit a destination. The on-going social structure is already there when we arrive. But again we can make a contribution in nature preservation and conservation. And this will start on our very own self. Treat the whole environment as a house that shelters us. In this way, we would be doing things for our own survival. If Earth is our house, we will protect it.

Finally, here are some tips to be a responsible tourist or traveler:

  • When there is an urge to throw away small food wrapper in a vehicle, just use your pocket. Put your trash in your pocket. Seems non-sense but it will help somehow.
  • When you see a boat crew throwing anchor in the coral area, it would help I think if you politely feedback the boat captain. Perhaps later or sooner they will realize that you are right.
  • When you see that a present local system is not helping nature preservation, make a stand not to avail their services. And instead do what you can in your own way. If that was me (for the example above), I would just snorkel through shallow areas and snorkel far.
  • Leaving a footprint in the sand is much better that leaving your footprint in the coral.
  • Learn how to snorkel properly. We are an island country. And seeing the underwater beauty will let you see what you need to protect.
  • When you snorkel, for the protection of both your self and the environment, do not touch any living creatures and plants, even if you are very curious.
  • Try to avail accommodation, restaurants, spa, etc. that employs locals. A little research and a local interview would help you know such information.
  • Since you would interview locals, try learning the local dialect. Not only you will gain information, but this will also gain you friendship.
  • Do not patronize and buy items that were created or manufactured in a way that destroys the environment.
  • Report to authorities when you have witnessed the sale of black corals and other coral derivatives.
  • Reduce Earth’s carbon print. Reduce fuel consumption in transportation by traveling in groups, by taking public transportation, and by walking.
  • Try taking public transportation. This would also help the income of the locals in the grassroots level.
  • Share your learning experience about environment protection through posting and re-posting on blogs or social network , rather than bragging about the pleasure you had with a particular destination.