Bermuda walkers told to stop stacking rocks

A photo of one of the piles of rocks in Bermuda Image copyright Andrew Dobson
Image caption Rock stacking may be good for photos, but it's bad for wildlife

Nature experts in Bermuda have urged people to stop prising rocks from the ground to make artfully arranged piles as it's disturbing the habitat of a critically endangered lizard.

Conservationists say rock stacking - also called rock or stone balancing - is an increasing problem in the Spittal Pond Nature Reserve. It's one of the last remaining homes of the rare Bermuda skink which lives among the rocks. The reserve is a "crucial habitat for its future on the island", according to Andrew Dobson, president of the Bermuda Audubon Society.

Rock stacking is practised around the world and some consider it an art. Photos of gravity-defying piles can be found all over the internet, but it has faced opposition and the US National Park Service calls it "vandalism".

Mr Dobson says the craze started to catch on about nine months ago in Bermuda, but it's now getting worse because people are damaging the bedrock. "Virgin slabs of white limestone rock are being prised from the coastline rocks," he tells the BBC. "With climate change, Bermuda is experiencing a greater frequency and increased strength of hurricanes. The erosion from these storms is serious enough without unwanted erosion by people."

It's not just bad news for the Bermuda skinks - removing rocks from their natural place also damages native plant life and disturbs nesting seabirds.

The Bermuda National Trust is also calling on visitors to be more aware of the damage that rock stacking can wreak. "The saying 'Take nothing but memories, leave nothing but footprints', is appropriate here," says Lt Col William White, the organisation's president. "Nature takes thousands of years to evolve and we must take enormous care not to disturb that evolution while we enjoy these areas."

Image copyright Brian Gratwicke/Wikimedia
Image caption Bermuda skinks face threats from habitat loss, litter and non-native predators

Bermuda skink photo used under Creative Commons licence.

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