Endangered: Strombus gigas

One of the harsh realities of a place like Islote Santa Cruz is the constant depletion of resources. Among the most environmentally damaging is the sale of sea snail shells to tourists in the region. Though educational programs have been put in place to limit this practice to sexually mature specimens, no monitoring exists. As recently as a decade ago, local fishermen would easily capture dozens of sea snails after just a few hours combing the surrounding sea floor. Now, they must venture several kilometers out to sea in order to find just a handful in a whole day.

People of all walks of life can make a tremendous impact by exercising conscious restraint when purchasing mementos during their trips. This means YOU!

A young boy sorts sea snail shells at his home. His family sells the shells to tourists and other merchants. Islote Santa Cruz, Colombia. 2008

A young boy sorts sea snail shells at his home. His family sells the shells to tourists and other merchants. Islote Santa Cruz, Colombia. 2008

What about the livelihood of those poor people?

Many communities around the world, such as this one, are indeed very poor and have come to depend largely on such practices. Nevertheless, the laws of economics don't cease to exist even in extreme poverty. The people of Islote Santa Cruz are very resilient, resourceful and hard working. Other options for earning a living do exist in their world and many communities have discovered the importance of preserving their surrounding ecosystem in order to draw conscious ecotourism. The depletion of resources is fueled more by a lack of continuous educational programs and oblivious tourists.

Link: Strombus gigas in the News (Spanish)

Eduardo Rubiano