People, Travel

Careless Tourists Harm Cave Ecosystems

Careless Tourists Harm Cave EcosystemsCareless Tourists Harm Cave Ecosystems

Careless tourists run the risk of introducing alien bacteria to cave ecosystems that can be devastating, according to Javad Nezamdoust of Iranian Cave and Speleological Association. Speaking to Mehr News Agency, the expert pointed to a recent campaign aimed at promoting cave exploration and raising awareness about the delicate nature of cave ecosystems. Besides bats, which can be seen due to their relatively large size, caves are home to diverse microorganisms that play key roles in maintaining the balance of its ecosystem, though alien microbes can disrupt that. “When tourists enter caves, they transfer numerous non-native microbial species to vulnerable ecosystems,” he said, warning that explorers can also end up taking unknown and potentially harmful bacteria from the cave into the outside world. “They may become infected with a bacterial species unknown to modern science, which makes treatment difficult,” Nezamdoust said.