As an endangered species, starfish are strongly protected in the Dominican Republic. To ensure that your visit to the natural habitats of these species is a pleasant one, you must abide by a few rules.
Taking starfish out of their natural habitat is banned!
Taking these animals out of the sea to take pictures of them seems harmless to tourists. However, these actions greatly affect the species and the entire underwater balance. Indeed, the simple contact of starfish with the open air is already harmful to their skin. At the same time, they risk asphyxiation, as they can only breathe underwater. For these reasons, environmentalists in the Dominican Republic and the Caribbean Sea strictly prohibit touching starfish. This rule is put in place to avoid the disappearance of the latter. As a reminder, this phenomenon will lead to an invasion of sea urchins and, in turn, the extinction of seaweed. Simply put, the entire marine ecosystem is in total disequilibrium without starfish.
Prohibition of starfish trading
In principle, it is forbidden to bring back marine products after a trip. These include shells, starfish and even sand. However, there are still people who try to sell dried starfish to tourists. The trade around the Caribbean beaches is not very regulated. However, customs are very strict. It is therefore in your best interest to refuse any tempting offer of a starfish in the country. In the Republic, even bringing back starfish as a holiday souvenir is considered an environmental offence.
The reasons for the putting in place of starfish regulations
The Dominican Republic is strict with its marine resources for many reasons. Environmental protection is one of them. In order to survive today, these animals are struggling to adapt to new environments deep underground, away from tourists. Despite this, scientists have discovered a gradual extinction of several breeds of starfish in this region. The bans have been put in place to protect both the starfish and other marine species that are already struggling to survive due to pollution. You will still be free to enjoy the beauty of the beach. However, you will not be able to take photos of starfish.