"Sand, Sun, Sea and Sex with Strangers."
Spain’s Canary Islands, floating west of sunny North Africa is on every surfer-worth-her-salt’s “places to go and poke around” list. Razor sharp volcanic reefs, feisty locals, nooks and crannies to explore and maybe get lucky within. The chain also just so happens to be on many sexually-adventurous-tourist-worth-his-chaps, hosting a very large Gay Pride festival etc. but a damning new report has fingered this casual public sex, not surfing, with destroying the environment.
According to CNN, a new paper in the Journal of Environmental Management — “Sand, Sun, Sea and Sex with Strangers, the ‘five S’s. Characterizing ‘cruising’ activity and its environmental impacts on a protected coastal dunefield” — looks for the first time at the environmental impact on the coastal reserve being used as a cruising area.
Researchers inventoried 298 “sex spots” on the beach, over a total area of over two square miles, mainly among “bushy and dense vegetation” and nebkhas — dunes that wad up around vegetation. They studied them during May 2018, a period which included the local Gay Pride festival.
The tourists’ sex, and “cruiser trampling,” impacts “directly” not only on the nebkhas, but also on eight native plant species, three of which are endemic, they found.
As a result of the tourists’ activities, there has been a “complete abandonment” of environmental education in the reserve, according to the study. The reserve was originally created with education as a “primary activity.”
What’s more, Gran Canaria giant lizards — a popular sight in the Canary islands — have “died after eating condoms left behind by pleasure seekers,” wrote Patrick Hesp, one of the report’s authors, in an article for The Conversation.
Hosting up to 14 million visitors a year, Gran Canaria is a gay-friendly tourist destination, with visitors from the US, UK and Germany among the main markets, and while the authors are quick to emphasize that there is “no intention to criticize some of the LGBTI community,” and stressed that it was not just LGBTQ visitors having sex in the dunes, they note that “cruising is openly practiced” on Maspalomas.
At the end, the authors of the paper did not want to call for an end to public sex but noted, “One couple having sex on the beach is one thing; but having hundreds converge on the same area every day damages the dunes as much as off-road driving does.”
Surfing, mercifully, spared any wrath.