Sand- A Treasure at the beach

By Kimani Wiseman

Treasures can come in different form. They can be in the form of material things. For example gold, diamond, or pearls, or even something that is playing a special role in our lives. Sand can be classified as a treasure because of the marvellous job it is doing in the environment.

Sand is formed when rocks breakdown from weathering and eroding over thousands and even millions of years. Starting from thousands of miles from the ocean, rocks slowly travel down rivers and streams, constantly breaking down along the way. Once they make it to the ocean, they further erode from constant action of waves and tides. Sand is deposited on the coast by waves.

 The parrot fish is also very imperative for the formation of white sandy beaches. Research shows that parrotfish is responsible for about seventy percent of sand on tropical beaches. The Parrot fish bite and scrape algae off of rocks and dead corals with their parrot like beaks, grind up the inedible calcium carbonate reef material [ made mostly of coral skeletons] in their guts, and excrete it as sand. They spend about 90 percent of their day eating algae off of corals and it is estimated that one parrot fish can produce 700 pounds of sand in a year. This is a video from National Geographic showing how the parrot fish produces sand. (https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=10156074274271005).

The Government of St.Vincent and the Grenadines has placed a ban on parrotfish. As of December 1st 2019, no person shall harm, take, have in his/ her possession, sell or purchase a parrotfish or its eggs. Anyone found violating these regulations is liable to a fine of up to five thousand dollars. Sand is very important at the beach. They absorb the impact of storm surge and high waves, preventing or delaying flooding of inland areas and damage to inland structures. Climate change is already causing stronger and frequent storms and hurricanes, hence the reason the sand that you see at the beach is very important. Without it, many lives would be lost and properties would be destroyed during a storm or hurricane.

Sand is a habitat for a variety of species like crabs, and sea turtles. For example, turtles such as the leather back sea turtles use the sand at the beach to dig their nest and lay their eggs. The turtles cover their eggs with sand, to protect them from predators. The sand also helps to incubate the eggs and the temperature of the sand determines the gender of baby sea turtles, with cooler sand producing more males and warmer sand producing more females. Without sand, sea turtles would be extinct.

Sand displays the aesthetic beauty of beaches and contributes to the ecotourism of countries. This is why when tourist arrives in the Caribbean, they would lie down in the sand at the beach, and enjoy the golden sunshine. If you look carefully around the environment, there are other treasures that are visible. The ocean provides us with an abundance of sea food that is a treasure. The water you get when you turn on your pipe that is a treasure. Trees provide us with oxygen that is a treasure. In St.vincent and the Grenadines, we do not have resources such as oil and gold, but we are blessed with all these treasures.

We have black and white sandy beaches which are very unique, clean potable water in our pipes. Have a look in many other countries across the globe and you would see how polluted their water is. We are also blessed with lush green vegetation rich with biodiversity that keeps you in touch with nature and fertile soils for agriculture. We have to be very thankful for all these treasures and be very careful not to over exploit them, or else they would disappear in the blink of an eye.

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