Tourists having sex in the dunes are ruining a Spanish beach

(CNN) – Over-tourism is often blamed for suffocating historic cities, littering world-famous landmarks and killing local life in tourist spots around the world. Now it is said that tourists who have sex are behind the gradual destruction of a beach and a nature reserve in Europe.

The Dunas de Maspalomas Special Nature Reserve, on the Spanish island of Gran Canaria, is known for its wild sand dunes that ripple behind its lighthouse perched on the promenade, and regularly tops the list of things to see on the island.

Its dunes, which have been legally protected since 1982, are one of the last remaining mobile dune systems in Europe and provide a resting place for birds migrating between Africa and Europe.

But now it is providing a different kind of resting place, with tourists going to the dunes for fun.

A new role in the Environmental Management Magazine – “Sand, sun, sea and sex with strangers, the ‘five S. Characterizing the activity of’ cruise ships’ and its environmental impacts in a protected coastal dune field” – analyzes for the first time the environmental impact in the coastal reserve that is being used as a cruising area.

The researchers made an inventory of 298 “sex spots” on the beach, in a total area of ​​more than two square miles, mainly between “thick and dense vegetation” and nebkhas, dunes that pile up around the vegetation. They studied them during May 2018, a period that included the local Gay Pride festival.

The sex of the tourists and the “trampling of cruise ships” impacts “directly” not only on the nebkhas, but also on eight native plant species, three of which are endemic, they found.

Sex ‘nests’ in the dunes

The dunes of Maspalomas are a great attraction in Gran Canaria.

Giulio Andreini / UCG / Universal Images Group / Getty Images

Tourists trample vegetation, remove plants and sand, make their own “nests”, even surround them, and dump waste such as cigarettes, condoms, toilet paper, wipes and cans.

They also use the dunes as a toilet, and the researchers find “places to urinate and defecate.”

The more remote the place of sex, the more it has been used and the more garbage is left there, the researchers noted. Although the authorities leave garbage bags in some of the larger areas, they were usually full.

It was found that even the “no-go zone” of the dunes, which is completely off limits to the public, where other areas are restricted, has 56 sex spots.

As a result of tourist activities, there has been a “total neglect” of environmental education in the reserve, according to the study. The reserve was originally created with education as a “primary activity”.

In addition, the giant lizards of Gran Canaria, a popular sight in the Canary Islands, have “died after eating condoms left by pleasure seekers,” wrote Patrick Hesp, one of the report’s authors, in an article for The conversation.

With up to 14 million visitors a year, Gran Canaria is a gay-friendly tourist destination, with visitors from the US, UK and Germany among the top markets, and while the authors are quick to emphasize that “there are none intention to criticize some of the LGBTI community “, and highlighted that not only LGBTQ visitors had sex in the dunes, they point out that” cruising is practiced openly “in Maspalomas.

Coastal dune systems are a crucial part of the seascape, but they have been used to attract tourism around the world, with devastating consequences, the authors write.

“Its degradation, in many cases, has been a direct consequence of tourism development,” the newspaper reads.

As Hesp wrote in his separate article: “We are not calling for an end to public sex, but we want people to be aware of the harm it can cause.”

A couple having sex on the beach, he wrote, is one thing; But having hundreds converging on the same area every day damages the dunes just as much as off-road driving does.

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