A group of Asian tourists, allegedly Chinese, has been blasted on social media for posing with starfish and corals in photos posted this month.
The images are believed to be shot on a beach in Semporna, a town on the east coast of Sabah, Malaysia.
In some of the photos posted on Facebook, a woman is seen holding a sign that reads “You Should Be Here.” This is the popular tagline of WorldVentures
, a travel club based in Malaysia.
However, WorldVentures denied organizing the trip and speculated that the tourists have gone there themselves. The travel club told New Straits Times
“WorldVentures has not organised any trip to Semporna (in Sabah). The trip was probably organised on the members’ own initiative. The incident is being investigated internally by our compliance department.”
Outraged nature lovers expressed dismay over the tourists’ behavior. A diver said:
“Sea creatures should be respected. As ‘visitors’ in their habitat, we should not simply touch anything under the water, let alone take it out to pose with for pictures. Such behaviour would stress the starfish and even the corals, which might cause them to die.”
Another diver said:
“It saddens me to see how the corals and starfish were treated by this group of tourists. We are not supposed to touch corals, as our hands are contaminated with bacteria, which can kill them, as they are very sensitive. We are supposed to protect them, and such behaviour could damage the ecosystem.”