Seashell Souvenirs Are Killing Protected Marine Life
The seashell trade is little known, but the massive industry devastates marine life worldwide.
In the little coastal town of Kanyakumari, in southern India, mountains of newly harvested mollusk shells—living animals still inside them—lie drying out near a sun-drenched beach. Next up for these seashells: a dunking for a few hours in large vats of oil and acid to clean them. Any remaining flesh or scaly growth is then scraped off each shell by hand by one of hundreds of local workers, and they’re given another soaking in oil. After a final hand-polishing, many are shipped to artisans in nearby towns who craft jewelry and other mementos to sell to tourists. The remaining shells are destined for elsewhere in India and abroad.