Canary Island Dunes Under Threat By Tourists Getting Frisky On The Beach

Tourist activity has significantly damaged landforms and native plants near Gran Canaria.

Canary Island Dunes Under Threat By Tourists Getting Frisky On The Beach

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Tourists getting frisky at a popular ‘sex spot’ in Spain’s Canary Islands has scientists hot and bothered.

Researchers are concerned that travellers having sex on the beach could be eroding a delicate ecosystem.

Ph.D student Leví García Romero’s profile on the Instituto de Oceanografía y Cambio Global states he is analysing “the role of the vegetation cover in the beach-dune systems of the Canary Islands as a basis for improving their management.” Romero is one of the study’s authors.

Per the IOCG, “This thesis doctoral analyzes from small scale the impact of urban-touristic development in four aeolian sedimentary systems in the Canaries: Maspalomas, Corralejo, Lambra and Jable Sur from, and from great scale only in Maspalomas, using the vegetation coverage as indicator.”

Researchers used Geographic Information Technologies to obtain and assess the data.

According to Romero’s IOCG page: “Results indicate that systems affected by urban touristic development have witnessed significant environmental change. Especially in Maspalomas, changes in the foredune has been detected reducing the nebkhas number and inside the dune system, one blowout and two erosional zones clearly defined since 2003 in the residuary active zone has been detected with relationship by buildings in Playa del Inglés.”

The NZ Herald reports: “One beach in particular, which is famous for being a gay tourism spot, has been used as a case study by experts from the Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (ULPGC) and Flinders University. The well-known Gran Canaria, near the Dunas de Maspalomas Special Nature Reserve, illustrates the environmental consequences of ‘cruising’.”

The scientists said the study (published in The Journal Of Environmental Management) was not focused on the demographic of tourists, but upon the impacts the activity was having on the environment.

“In the area of Gran Canaria, the team found that sex sports in places of dense vegetation and ‘nebkhas’ (vegetated dune hummocks) significantly damaged the landforms and native plants,” The NZ Herald reports.

According to, “Of the 10 plant species found to be impacted, eight were native and three endemic to the particular kind of dunes of the Canary Islands.”

Flinders University’s Professor Patrick Hesp, who co-authored the study, has said similar activity has been reported in Australia.

The researchers said a mix of science and action could improve the situation, by combining targeted research with natural resource management.

The Canary Islands is not the only place tourists are going wild, causing authorities and researchers concern in the process.

To hear more about tourists having new experiences on vacation, check out the video below, where expats in Bali share their wildest Gojek experiences – or read this article, which details how some researchers want Bali to stop treating tourists like gods.

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