Last month we took a cruise and had a stop off at Nassau in the Bahamas. As we walked around (after dining at Senior Frogs), I noticed that there were people selling sea stars and conch shells. This isn't the first time that I've seen it, or the first time that it saddened me.
The sea stars that they were selling (pictured) are called "cushioned sea stars." They harvest them right there, as they can easily see them right at the bottom of the beautiful clear water. They take them out of the water and lay them out to dry, which kills them. I can't help but to imagine what it must feel like to be plucked out of the water and left in the sun to dry to one's death. Seems like it would be a rough way to die. Anyway, from the research that I have done online, the cushioned sea star has been over-harvested and the numbers are dwindling (here and here).
People kill these creatures simply to take them home as a keepsake or souvenir from the Bahamas. How sad is that? These are living, feeling creatures, that lose their lives so that tourists can take one home to look at. What a shame.
The queen conchs are also available for tourists to purchase and take home. The one difference here is that people eat the conchs (fritters, and other ways). So some may find it to be more accepting. Personally I still find it revolting and sad. Furthermore, queen conchs have been severely over harvested and the numbers have reached alarmingly low levels.
As a tourist, aim to take home a souvenir that didn't cause an animal to lose its life. Just because we can take a life sure doesn't mean we should. We should want to live in a world where we exercise compassion, and that also includes towards things like the cushioned sea star and the queen conch. All living creatures want life. Could you imagine if people, or dogs, or cats, were treated in such a manner?
Here are some pictures I took while in Nassau, Bahamas: