Confiscated sand returned to beaches

Beach sign "Forbidden to take the sand"

Have you ever collected some sand to bring home as a souvenir during a trip? I for sure have. If you do remember to check first – in some places it’s illegal and considered theft.
Photos: Cortesy of “Sardegna Rubata e Depredata” facebook page

Sardinia in Italy is such a place. Airport officials are constantly on the lookout for sand brought out in small bags, bottles or jars. 10 tonnes of seized sand (!) laying in storerooms in Olbia was recently returned to two locations in the north of Sardinia. Seizures are frequent in airports and boat ports all over Sardinia despite campaigns informing tourists that it’s a crime to collect sand here.

Officials say that Sardinia’s coast has suffered for years from visitors filling bottles and bags with sand as souvenirs. Travelers caught with sand can be fined between 500 and 3,000 euros.

Bags and bottles of sand confiscated by officials in Sardinia.
Bags and bottles of sand confiscated by officials in Sardinia.

I’m not alone in collecting sand of various color and sort while traveling. There’s a name for us sand collectors – arenophiles. It directly translates to sand lovers. In most places it’s ok to collect a sample of sand do so but in other places, it’s not. Most regulations are set up to regulate big-scale sand extraction, to control sand mining and sand dredging many tonnes at a time. To control sand mined for construction, for infrastructure or for other industrial use.

Sand collectors gather sand in tiny volumes to place the sand under microscopes, in file-cabinets, or in pretty little jars or bottles as decoration. Sand collectors gather sand out of love for sand and most collect in a responsible way. While tourists bringing sand as souvenirs is a real issue in Sardinia, this is in no way to be connected to the world’s sand shortage. When discussing irresponsible or illegal sand mining or the sand mafia it’s on a whole different scale.

Sand is lovely. Enjoy it at it’s locations. And if you too are tempted to collect, remember to check for possible restrictions first!

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