Tourism, as we understand it today, is a relatively recent phenomenon. Men of leisure and aristocrats have been to able to travel for recreation for millennia, but not often very far. And since the advent of steamships, people have been able to travel the world. But again, only the wealthy and not in large numbers. But now, with commercial air travel, tourism has become widespread and a major global industry. Recreational travel is no longer the purview of the upper classes and the fabulously wealthy. Everyday people can now go for a long weekend in Las Vegas, London, or Lagos. And regular folks can visit more remote, exotic locations such as Machu Picchu, Manaus, and Mongolia.
The ability for average Joes and Jills to get out and see the world and expand their horizons is a good thing. But, it’s had some unexpected consequences. Apart from more global concerns, such as the massive carbon output from jet travel, there are more localized visible effects. In short, the toll of heavy tourism has straight up affecting some places and is on the path to affecting many more. It’s a paradox—people see or hear of a wonderful place, then they all travel to it and obscure what made it special in the first place. And then there’s the odd time or two when a couple of drunken tourists just burned something down. Here are 30 once-breathtaking places that have been overrun by tourists.
30 Pont Des Arts - Engulfed By Padlocks
Have you ever been in Paris (or dozens of other cities around the world) and noticed all the bridges covered in padlocks? The locks were placed there by couples to symbolize their love because...well...I don’t know why. But the routine is to write your names on the lock and toss the key into the river. Kind of a cute idea. Well, until everybody started doing it. And then you get a swarm of locks obscuring the side of the bridge.
And perhaps this has been no more problematic than with the Pont Des Arts. Beginning around 2008, this recognizable pedestrian bridge over the Seine has become increasingly engulfed by padlocks. In June of 2014, part of the parapet on the bridge collapsed under the weight of all of the padlocks. In 2015, USA Today reported that there were over a million locks weighing approximately 45 tons! Parisian city workers occasionally remove all the locks from a panel or replace a panel entirely with a solid surface to which a lock cannot be attached. The Parisian government has even run campaigns imploring tourists to do away with this dumb ritual.
29 The Coliseum Of Rome - Is It Still Stable?
When it was first built nearly 2000 years ago, the Coliseum of Rome (also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre) was no doubt breathtaking. You can’t blame tourists for the fact that it’s now a ruin. That is the fault of father time and an earthquake in 1349. Even by then, the Coliseum had fallen into disuse for about six hundred years. But it stands today as a testament to the architectural know-how and the abundant resources of the Roman Empire... for now.
The Coliseum has long drawn visitors to Rome, but in the past few decades, tourist numbers have become so high as to threaten the stability of the Coliseum.
The coliseum receives millions of tourists annually and this has had an effect on the ancient structure. A major restoration was done between 1993 and 2000, costing 40 billion Italian lire (19.3M USD). And it doesn’t help that these tourists sometimes misbehave, vandalizing it with graffiti and stealing stones.
28 Isla De Sa Porrassa - Ruined By Party Animals
Isla de sa Porassa is a Spanish island located in the bay of the holiday resort Magaluf, Majorca. The island is small, measuring only 400 meters (1312 feet) across at its widest point. It is uninhabited, but it is a swimming distance from Magaluf beach. As such, every summer, holiday-goers swim or travel on personal watercraft to the island. Since we’re talking Majorca, many of the tourists who visit sa Porassa are young party animals from the U.K. and other parts of Europe. Similar to the Ibiza crowd.
Porassa has been nicknamed “Big Swillers Island” as a troubling trend has emerged.
Swimming to the island while intoxicated (sometimes heavily) has come to be seen as something of a rite of passage for many of these young tourists. This is a very bad idea. As was the idea two young British tourists had in 2015 when they carelessly flicked their cigarette butts on the ground and started a fire that burned five acres of the island.
27 Stonehenge - Chipping Away At The Stones To Take Home Souvenirs
Stonehenge has stood for 4,000-5,000 years. Surely, there’s nothing tourists can do to harm these massive stones. Indeed, that’s what administrators first believed. Up until 1977, visitors could walk around, touch, and even climb and hang off the stones. After a few decades of this, administrators noticed a rapid increase in the rate of erosion and now the stones are roped off, save for winter and summer solstice and the vernal and autumnal equinoxes.
But some naughty tourists still find a a way to chip away at the stones to take home an ill-gotten souvenir. However, today, Stonehenge is perhaps most under threat from a proposed £1.6bn tunnel near the site. Proponents of the tunnel claim that they will restore the tranquil beauty of Stonehenge, as it will reduce the noise from the current nearby highway, but others worry that it could wreck everything.
26 Cuba - Over-Priced Everything
We’ve seen before how even whole cities are being ruined by tourists. But a whole country? That’s what happened in Cuba in 2016. According to the New York Times, a record of 3.5 million tourists visited Cuba in 2016. Tourism is supposed to bring in money to the country and make everybody richer. But really, it only makes the hotels and restaurants in Havana richer. Meanwhile, every day, Cubans can’t put food on their plates...literally.
All the food that the tourists eat have priced out the Cubans. Many Cubans can no longer afford onions and green peppers, let alone luxuries like pineapples and limes.
Or, they might be able to afford the food, but they can’t get it because it’s all being served to tourists. The Cuban government, still socialist, though easing up, has put a cap on the price of some foodstuffs so Cubans can still afford them. But as tensions between Cuba and America relax and Cuba welcomes more and more tourists, both of them, and we the tourists, will have to figure out a way in which everybody can benefit.
25 Cambodia - Kids Pretending To Be Orphans
Another entire country feeling the ill effects of tourism is Cambodia. We saw before how they ruined a lake in Phnom Penh in order to build a hotel, but the country as a whole has experienced an odd side effect of tourism. The rate of children in orphanages has increased dramatically in recent years. Many of these orphans often sell trinkets, fruit, or bottled water near tourist attractions, such as Angkor Wat. And tourists, wanting to help out the needy orphans, buy stuff.
But, this has not only incentivized children to pretend to be orphans, but for parents to actually abandon their children to orphanages in the belief that their children will have a better life there with the income they can make off of tourists. If you go to Cambodia, as much as you may think you’re helping, do not buy things from these orphans.
24 Big Major Cay Island - Feeding The Pigs Unhealthy Food
Big Major Cay is an uninhabited island (or cay) in the Exuma district of the Bahamas. It is perhaps better known by its other name, Pig Island. It got that name because it is most famous for the colony of feral pigs that call the island home. The origin of the pigs is disputed. Some say the pigs were left there by sailors who intended to come back and cook them but didn’t. Some say they got to the island after a shipwreck or maybe they migrated over from a different island. However they got there, the pigs have become well-liked by locals and tourists alike.
Tourists love to feed the pigs and watch them swim. However, just what the tourists are feeding them is problematic.
Several pigs were found dead in 2017, and their deaths are thought to have been caused by tourists feeding them unhealthy food and even beer and rum. Tourists have also tried to ride the pigs as well as other ill-advised things.
23 The Little Mermaid - Stupid Graffitis
The Little Mermaid is a bronze statue sculpted by Edvard Eriksen and unveiled in Copenhagen in 1913. Since that time, it has become a major tourist attraction. It is 1.25 meters (4.1 ft) tall and weighs 175 kilograms (385 lbs). It is named after the fairytale of the same name by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen. Obviously, no number of tourists, no matter how large, could damage a bronze statue simply by looking at it. But sadly, people have done far more than look at it.
The Little Mermaid has suffered defacement by vandals and political activists. The statue has had its arm sawed off, covered in various colors of paint numerous times, has been written on, dressed up in Muslim garb, had a marital aid taped to it, been knocked off its rock by explosives, and has been decapitated...twice! Poor mermaid! Many of these offences were done in the name of political protest but some were just the result of garden variety stupidity by tourists.
22 The Great Pyramid/The Great Sphinx
The Great Pyramid and Great Sphinx have stood at Giza for nearly 5,000 years. They have seen dynasties, regimes, rulers, and armies all come and go. They have seen the nascent stages of both Christianity and Islam. They have stood there, embracing the desert winds, for millennia. But now, their future is in doubt.
The steady stream of tourists, their footprints, their breath, and their occasional chipping away at the ancient structures have all led to the serious damage of the pyramids and the Sphinx. Repeated attempts to restore both the pyramids and the Sphinx have been made to little success. The most famous story, though–that of French troops under the command of Napoleon Bonaparte shooting the nose off the Sphinx with cannonballs–is apocryphal. The nose had already fallen off some time before Napoleon’s birth.
21 Machu Picchu - Tourists Who Don't Hire Guides
Machu Picchu is the most famous symbol of the Inca civilization. Built in the 15th century in modern-day Peru, this citadel attracts scores upon scores of tourists every year, despite its borderline inaccessible elevation of 2,430 meters (7970 ft). Nearly 1.5 million tourists visited Machu Picchu in 2017 alone.
That’s an average of over 4000 visitors every day—a far greater number than the 2,500 daily limit set by UNESCO and the Peruvian government. Funny how that works.
In 2012, UNESCO conservation experts urged Peruvian authorities to take “emergency measures” to stabilize the site’s buffer zone and protect it from damage. Plans to require tourists to hire guides and follow specific paths to visit Machu Picchu are in the works and are planned to be implemented by 2019. If you decide to go, please hire a responsible guide and respect where you are.
20 Kensington Market - Landlords Evicting Tenants Under Dubious Circumstances
Kensington Market is a neighborhood in the city of Toronto. But, it’s not just a neighborhood, it’s also a designated National Historic Site of Canada. It is a colorful market, full of small produce stores, cafés, restaurants, and vintage clothing shops. It is highly multicultural and has been a haven for bohemians and artists since the 1960’s. But, unlike other previously bohemian neighborhoods which have since been gentrified, Kensington Market has managed to hang on to its bohemian qualities...for now. Many Market residents are threatened by the increasing rise in rents. On top of that,
many landlords are evicting tenants under dubious circumstances, with an eye to renting out those units on platforms such as Airbnb.
The home sharing app has a damaging effect on the Market. As more and more tourists to “the 6” want to stay in this trendy neighborhood, they are driving out the people who made it cool.
19 Central Reykjavik Spring Break?
After the 2008 financial crash, Iceland turned to tourism to rebuild their economy. And it worked...a little too well. By 2016, tourism accounted for about 10% of Iceland’s GDP and 30% of their export revenue. In 2017 alone, over two million tourists visited Iceland. For some context, the entire population of Iceland is about 350,000. This has created an imbalance.
This imbalance is no more evident than it is in central Reykjavik. Just about everybody who visits Iceland goes through the capital, and at times, central Reykjavik can seem like spring break. With so many hotels and hostels, there are always lots of tourists looking to party. And it makes sense. Reykjavik is fun, especially when the midnight sun is out. But it’s frustrating for the locals. The government is seeing what they can do to stem the tide a little bit.
18 Boeung Kak Lake - Goal? To Build A Hotel And A Condominium Building
This one isn’t so much a case of tourists ruining a place but of a government and private developers ruining a place (because their focus is on: catering to tourists). Boeung Kak is an area within the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh. It is, essentially, a wetland. It used to contain a great big beautiful lake. But, that’s all gone now.
Despite the protests of locals, non-governmental organizations, and international actors, in 2007, the Cambodian government leased land on Boeung Kak to Shikaku Inc. and gave them permission to build on it. By 2010, Shikaku Inc. had filled in 90% of the lake with sand and, by 2015, had begun to build roads and drainage infrastructure. Their ultimate goal is to build a hotel and a condominium building. The destruction of the lake has had a significant environmental and social impact on Phnom Penh.
17 Santorini - Tourists, Tourists And More Tourists
Santorini looks positively idyllic. The Greek island has long been one of the go-to spots for a Mediterranean holiday. And tourists keep coming and coming and coming. Santorini, though beautiful, is not particularly big. It is home to just over 15,000 Greeks. Yet, in 2015 alone, a whopping 636 cruise ships dumped a massive 796,000 tourists on the island. The island has had to impose a limit on the number of visitors arriving by cruise ship every day. They settled on a cap of 8,000.
That means, even with the cap, if you go to Santorini, you’re far likelier to meet a tourist than a local.
To be candid, Santorini is completely overrun by tourists. There are plenty of other beautiful Greek islands you could visit, so go there instead. If you must visit Santorini, do so during the off-peak periods and try not to get there via cruise ship.
16 Koh Tachai - Garbage
Thailand has benefited massively from marketing itself as a tourist’s paradise. Tourism is a major part of the Thai economy, but they are beginning to get more than they bargained for. This is perhaps no truer of anywhere than it is of the Phi Phi Islands. More than a thousand tourists come to the beautiful southern Thai islands every day. And the islands are nearing their breaking point. There is far too much waste–both in the form of garbage and human waste–for the islands to handle responsibly.
One island in particular, Koh Tachai, has become so overrun that the Thai government stepped in and completely blocked it off to tourists. You just can’t go there anymore. If tourists and hotels don’t begin acting more responsibly or maybe start traveling to some of the less-visited Thai beaches, the government may have to start blocking access to other Phi Phi islands.
15 Cozumel - Boat Pollution
Another warm idyllic island with beautiful views of azure waters is Cozumel. This Mexican island has long been a tourist hotspot, mostly for Americans and Canadians, who are looking for some sun. And many of these tourists arrive via cruise ship. (There are those darned cruise ships again.) According to the BBC, Cozumel is the second most popular cruise ship destination in the world.
One of the main attractions of Cozumel is that the island is surrounded by beautiful coral reefs, or at least it used to be.
Coral is very vulnerable, both due to global climate change and ocean acidification as well as due to...oh, I don’t know...humans grabbing some to take it home and cruise ships ramming into them. And the pollution from all the boat traffic has damaged the reefs further out. This...has...to...stop.
14 Yosemite National Park - Tourist Campfires
Yosemite is a massive (747,956 acres) U.S. National Park in California and a World Heritage Site. Nearly 4.5 million visitors came to Yosemite in 2017 to see its giant sequoia trees, granite cliffs, glaciers, and biodiversity. But, there’s been a big problem in Yosemite in recent years. Yosemite has seen an increasing number of wildfires, as has California and the entire American west. Many of these fires are caused by lightning, but far too many of them are caused by tourists. Many visitors and campers are too casual with their campfires and cigarette butts. Several fires have been attributed to tourists over the past several years, and with hot and dry conditions increasing every year, any fire could turn into a massive and deadly one and destroy the park. So, please be careful!
13 Vance Creek Bridge - Thrill Seekers And Graffitists
The Vance Creek Bridge is an arch bridge in the Satsop Hills of Washington State. It was built in 1929 for a logging railroad owned by the Simpson Logging Company. The bridge stands at 347 feet (106 m) high, making it the second-highest railroad arch in the United States. It was decommissioned in the 1970’s due to a decline in logging in the Olympic Peninsula. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. Then, for about 20 years, nothing happened.
Then, social media happened and nature lovers, thrill seekers, graffitists, and (apparently) arsonists all started going and posting photos of the bridge online.
All the visitors began to damage the bridge, sometimes purposely, and the bridge is now very much a danger hazard. The Simpson Logging Company tried to work out a deal with Washington State Parks to open the bridge as a tourist attraction, but these plans fell through. Now, the company has begun dismantling the bridge, and soon, none of us will be able to visit it.
12 Sagrada Familia And La Boqueria - Proper Permits?
The Sagrada Familia is a Minor Basilica (partially) designed by famed Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. Its unique design attracts hordes of tourists even though the structure is still under construction, despite having broken ground all the way back in 1882. La Boqueria is a large market with a wide variety of goods available for sale. Both are in the city of Barcelona, and both, much like the city itself, are overrun with tourists. The plethora of tourists fund the construction of the Sagrada Familia but their presence in the thousands every day also hinders this construction. Tourists often have to buy tickets days in advance just to see it. As for La Boqueria, locals can hardly do their shopping anymore as the market is always full of tourists.
The city has begun to clamp down on the tourism industry. City Hall closed 615 private accommodations in 2015 for not having proper tourism permits. They have also levied fines to both Airbnb and TripAdvisor and banned large groups from entering La Boqueria.
11 The Mona Lisa - Really?
Paris is the most visited city in the world. The Louvre is the most visited museum in the world. And you should go to both. Try to visit during the shoulder season when the city and museum are not quite as busy. But when you do go to the Louvre, there’s one room that you can skip entirely—the room that contains the Mona Lisa.
The Louvre received 8.1 million visitors in 2017, and just about all of them went to see the Mona Lisa.
Let me describe what you see when you enter the room. About 40-50 people standing in front of you with their mobile phones and tablets pointed at a large wall with a small painting (77 cm × 53 cm or 30 in × 21 in) on it. And it’s not even that great a painting! A woman with a weird smile. So? Trust me, your time in the Louvre will be much better spent on other things than waiting 20 minutes to get up close to the Mona Lisa to take your obnoxious selfie. We all know what the Mona Lisa looks like anyway, what do you need a crummy photo of it for?
10 The British Museum - Not Enough Security
Like Paris, London receives millions of tourists every year. Like the Louvre, the British Museum is massively popular, receiving nearly six million visitors in 2017. And it’s free, which is kind of fair because most of the artifacts in the British Museum were, you know, basically stolen during the colonial era. John Oliver has described it as “an active crime scene.”
But one argument the Museum makes is that it can take excellent care of the treasures inside whereas their original locations might not be able to. But when you visit the British Museum, you’ll notice something, especially in the bigger halls. You notice a whole bunch of tourists touching, grabbing, and leaning against the artifacts with no security worker anywhere in sight to tell them to stop it. These tourists either can’t read the English signs that say “Do Not Touch” or they just don’t care. Either way, the British Museum better find a way to curb this trend or all the artifacts will be degraded by the sweaty palms of tourists.
9 Leaning Tower Of Pisa - Pretending To Hold Up The Tower
Completed in 1372, the Tower of Pisa is famous for its tilt, which it has always had due to not having a proper foundation and having been built on soft ground. In 1991, the Tower was closed for a decade to stabilize it and correct the lean a little bit. The end result is that, barring some calamity, the Tower should stay up leaning for another 200-300 years without further re-stabilization. So, the tower’s existence is not threatened by the throngs of tourists who come to visit it every year.
What is threatened by the tourists visiting Pisa is decency and good taste. If I have to see another photo of some simpleton tourist pretending to “hold up” the Tower, I’m going to vomit. If you go to the Tower of Pisa, you’ll have to weave your way through all these yahoos doing their dumb poses before you get to the Tower itself. So please, go visit Pisa, but do not do that awful propping up pose.
8 Conundrum Hot Springs - The Call Of Nature
We discussed how the relatively new innovation of commercial air travel has caused tourism numbers to balloon. Well, the even-newer invention of Instagram isn’t helping matters either. As people see others’ photos on “the ‘gram,” as well as other social media outlets, they naturally want to visit these destinations as well. But now, so many people are going that they’re already creating problems. Take the Conundrum hot springs in Colorado.
These hot springs are in a remote location and didn’t get much attention before social media. But after the few people who knew about the springs went there, took a photo, and geotagged it, everybody wanted to go.
And they did. So, thousands of people have flocked to Conundrum hot springs, spent some time there, and eventually had to answer the call of nature. But there are no toilets out there, just some beautiful hot springs and now, a not-so-beautiful big pile of crap. Yuck!
7 Times Square - About 330,000 People Pass Through Times Square Every Day
OK, I know what you’re thinking already. “When exactly was Times Square breathtaking?” Fair enough. To have ever called Times Square breathtaking would be an act of extreme hyperbole, unless you mean you had to literally hold your breath as the hot July sun warmed all the garbage that used to fill the Square. But, Times Square is interesting. After the New York Times set up shop there in 1904, it became a mass meeting place for New Yorkers to get their news and congregate. But then,
after WWII, it (like much of New York) fell into disrepair and was populated mostly by adult entertainment venues.
The New York Times described it as the worst block in the city as early as 1960. And in 1984, over 2,300 crimes occurred there. But surely, there must be some happy medium between that and the massive, corporate, obnoxious, tourist trap eyesore that it is today. Approximately 330,000 people pass through Times Square every day, many of them tourists. You do not need to be one of them.
6 The Tree Of Ténéré - Run Over By A Truck Driver
We go from one of the most crowded places in the world to one of the loneliest and most deserted. Indeed, we go to a literal desert—a great big desert called the Sahara in northeast Niger where there once stood a lonely tree. The Tree of Ténéré is the most isolated tree in the world. While the Tree of Ténéré didn’t attract droves of tourists from all over the world, it was a very important landmark for travelers through the desert, and many who lived near the area would make a trek to it or pass by it at least once in their lifetimes.
At least, that was until 1973 when a drunken Libyan truck driver ran it over. The most isolated tree in the world had been killed. The remains of the tree were moved to the Niger National Museum and metal replica was erected in its place, but it’s just not the same.
5 Paracel Islands - Social Media Travel Forums Flooded
The Paracel Islands, also known as Xisha in Chinese and Hoàng Sa in Vietnamese, are a group of islands, reefs, and banks in the South China Sea. They are controlled (and occupied) by the People’s Republic of China but are also claimed by Taiwan (Republic of China) and Vietnam. Because of the disputed nature of the islands, there hadn’t been much tourism there, but in 2016, China was feeling bolder and finally opened the islands up to tourism.
And that’s when the problems started happening. Chinese tourists started flooding social media and travel forums with photos of them fishing, hunting, and cooking.
Fishing, hunting, and cooking endangered species, that is—as well as leaving their trash all over the islands. The Chinese government will have to step in if they are to save the wonderful biodiversity on these islands.
4 The Galapagos - Too Many Visitors
The Galapagos Islands are world-famous for the great biodiversity they host. They have been famous since Charles Darwin published his Origin of Species after having studied the animals there. But the very thing that makes the Galapagos attractive to tourists is also very fragile and is being threatened by those same tourists who came to appreciate it. The wildlife there is in such a precarious position that UNESCO placed the Galapagos on its World Heritage in Danger list in 2007.
Many restrictions have been placed on tourism since then, such as requiring a licensed guide to accompany all visitors.
If you want to visit the Galapagos, first research the islands and all the species there and make sure you will truly benefit from going there. If so, make sure to hire a responsible guide and always walk on the prescribed pathways.
3 Venice - Misbehaving Tourists
Venice: the poster child for cities overrun by tourism. Everybody knows Venice is swarmed with tourists yet they still go. Many cities, such as Barcelona, Reykjavik, Dubrovnik, and Amsterdam, have placed various restrictions and limits on tourists, but perhaps no city has seen such open acrimony and scorn towards tourists as in Venice. And their position is a sympathetic one. Venetians are literally being replaced with tourists. The population of Venice is halved about every decade, as locals get pushed out of the housing market. And with Airbnb, the situation is escalating. The cruise ships are the worst. They go right into the historic areas and wreak environmental, aesthetic, and even economic damage, as tourists on cruise ships rarely eat or sleep off the ships. And then, there’s the fact that Venice is sinking and the weight of all those tourists isn’t helping.
The Venetian government has implemented strict rules regarding tourism, levying fines on misbehaving tourists. Venice is also seeking to limit the number of new hotel rooms. If you go, try to stay in a locally-owned hotel or a bed and breakfast outside of the city.
2 Antarctica - Cruise Ships=Pollution
Yes, that’s right, not only are entire countries under the threat of ruination by tourists, but so is an entire continent. The future of Antarctica is already unknown due to global climate change, but all the cruise ships that have begun landing there are not helping matters. The cruise ships have greatly increased water pollution, and this threatens the unique species that live on the great southern continent. The pollution comes from all the traffic from Chile and Argentina down to the Antarctic Peninsula.
The Antarctic Treaty has limited the number of people on shore to 100 at a time, and ships that carry more than 500 passengers are not allowed at any of the landing sites.
If you want to embark on an unforgettable trip, make sure you choose a cruise that is environmentally fastidious—one that makes all their passengers take all the cleaning procedures to ensure that they don’t contaminate Antarctica.
1 Raja Ampat Islands - Roughly $1.28-$1.92 Million To Repair The Reef
Raja Ampat, also known as “the Four Kings,” is an Indonesian archipelago near the island of New Guinea that consists of thousands of tiny islands, four big ones, and one medium-sized one. Raja Ampat forms part of Coral Triangle which contains some of the richest marine biodiversity on earth. And, it is truly breathtaking. As such, it attracts lots of tourists. Many of these tourists arrive via cruise ships. And this has caused problems.
In March of 2017, a 90-meter (295-foot) cruise ship, ‘Caledonian Sky,’ got caught in a low tide and ran aground in the reef, causing massive damage.
An evaluation team estimated that 1,600 square meters (5,250 square feet) of the reef was destroyed, which could cause roughly $1.28-$1.92 million to repair. However, a team of environmentalists and academics estimated a much more substantial degree of damage, with potential losses to Indonesia estimated at $18.6 million and a recovery time for the reef spanning decades.