Experts warn of lasting damage caused by having sex on beaches

·2-min read

Not only is it a popular cocktail, it's apparently the reason behind the destruction of sand dunes.

Experts are warning that sex on the beach is having severe environmental impacts, highlighting them in a new study published in the Journal of Environmental Management.

The paper looked at the environmental impact of tourists getting frisky on the Dunas de Maspalomas Special Nature Reserve, on the Spanish island of Gran Canaria, finding they impact not only the dunes but also native plant species in the area.

Holiday fun is eroding sand dunes in Europe.  Source: Getty
Holiday fun is eroding sand dunes in Europe. Source: Getty

The paper, which is called: "Sand, Sun, Sea and Sex with Strangers, the 'five S's. Characterising 'cruising' activity and its environmental impacts on a protected coastal dunefield," looks at the impact on the coastal reserve being used as a 'cruising' area.

298 sex spots identified 

Researchers from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (ULPGC) in Spain and Flinders University in South Australia studied the popular European destination, and how 'cruising' — an activity that consists of anonymous sexual encounters — is affecting it.

“We have conducted many studies on the vegetation in the foredunes fronting coastal dunefields of the arid northwest African and Canara Islands coasts,” says Dr Garcia-Romero, from the ULPGC Institute of Oceanography and Global Change. 

Researchers identified 298 sex spots over the beach, mainly over "bushy and dense" vegetation.

“In this one location in Gran Canaria, we found that sex sports in places of bushy, dense vegetation and ‘nebkhas’ (vegetated dune hummocks) were having a significant impact on the aeolian landforms and native plants there, including waste left behind.”

Warning for Aussie beaches

The study found 10 plant species were impacted, eight of which are native and three endemic to the hot, dry and saline type of dunes of the Canary Islands.

However, it's not just popular European beaches that are in danger.

“No matter what the human activity, popular coastal tourist locations need to closely monitor ecology and erosion trends,” says co-author Professor Patrick Hesp, who also studies Australian arid-zone coastal and inland dunefields at Flinders University,

The paper's authors warn that beach use and management can result in long-term changes in beach-dune systems. 

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