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Look But Leave



Few are the people who know that regardless of what type they are, shells serve the same purpose all around the world: they clean out impurities and make the water cleaner. In this sense we can say that shells do a lot more good living than as an ashtray or a side lamp in the corner of a restaurant.

Shell shapes often have more than one purpose. Some are streamlined to make burrowing through mud or sand easier. Some bivalves are heavily ridged to help them stay anchored. Still other shells grow long spines to catch seaweed and coral for camouflage. Mollusks are the scientific name of the soft bodied creatures that make their shells from calcium they get from either their food or the water they dwell in.

When a tiny mollusk hatches from its egg, it comes into the world a homeowner: a tiny shell that grows with it as it grows. Each different species of mollusk makes a shell that's unique. Within a species, there can be distinct differences in shells. Things like food, climate, environment and genetics all play a part in making each shell somewhat different in size, colour, or shape.

Shell trade has been banned in many countries around the world. Law Number 102 for preserving the Egyptian Environment in article # 2 states: Damaging or removing any living organisms or natural features and resources, such as shells, corals, rocks, or soil for any purpose is forbidden. HE the Governor of the Red Sea has issued a local decree regarding the same subject which prohibits selling, buying and trafficking shells within the boundaries of the Red Sea Governorate. Some tourists and visitors are not aware of the fact that carrying shells in their suit cases while traveling back to their countries can lead to unnecessary delay and inconveniences. Confiscating the shells would be the minimum action taken against them by the airport police.

As a tourist or as a resident in the Red Sea you might encounter shells or stuffed marine animals displayed on the pavements. If you admire the beauties and the natural resources of the Red Sea then it would be your obligation to express your discontent to the person who is committing such a violation.

Most divers have collected some shells at a certain time in their past and this is a fact that is hard to deny. In the last few years, and after learning the negative aspects of such actions a lot of divers are becoming environmentally aware. Most of the dive training organizations are educating the new generation of divers about the environment and how to preserve the natural resources.


What you see in the picture is what has been collected by an individual from the streets of Hurghada during the past two months. We believe it is up to you and us to stop or even assist in stopping this negative trade. If however nothing is done and shell sellers are left in the streets, we will all be speaking about the beautiful shells that we used to see while diving in the Red Sea and this is a very real possibility.


Though some of the Red Sea Shells are now hard to see underwater and they are nearly extinct, the situation now is way better than what it used to be 6 or 7 years ago. For those who do not know, there used to be specialized shops in the Red Sea that sold shells and stuffed marine life. Thanks to the laws and the support of both the local government and caring individuals this has stopped.


This is a call for you all to assist in stopping this trade by reporting the violators in order to preserve the natural resources of the Red Sea.

 

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John Kean is author of 'SS Thistlegorm, The True Story of the Red Sea's Greatest Ship Wreck'. He is also a board member of Sharm El Sheikh's SSDM
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By: Kimmo Hagman The weather conditions couldn't have been better for this early morning dive. The south Red Sea safari was starting to near its end
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Few are the people who know that regardless of what type they are, shells serve the same purpose all around the world: they clean out impurities and
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