Replanting the sea grass prairies by hand.
If you've ever done a spot of snorkelling in Mallorca, you'll have been impressed by the clarity of the sea, which is crystal clear. The main reason that our seas are so clean is an ancient aquatic plant, a sea grass called posidonia, as the vast beds of grass waving in the sea currents actually trap any sedement, acting like a giant filter.
The grass is common all around the Mediterranean and as well as clearing the water, also provides a home for many sea animals and prevents coastal erosion. It's also used as fertiliser on crops, insulation in houses, and animal food, so it's pretty important to the biosystem. Unfortunately in certain places the prairies are being destroyed by man in activities like trawling, anchoring boats and coastal developments.
Just off the holiday beaches of Santa Ponsa a project is taking place to recolonise the posidonia prairies by planting young shoots of the grass by hand. Run by Imedea, the Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Studies, backed by Red Electrica, the organistaion repsonsible for laying the electricity cables under the sea from the mainland to the Balearics, the project will last about 4 years and cost hundreds of thousands of Euros.
Posidonia is an extremely long-lived plant, but also extremely slow growing, so the facilities of Imedea are being used to propagate the sea grass seeds, gathered laboriously over a number of weeks from other sites, before replanting the shoots in Santa Ponsa.
The work is being done at depths of upto 25 metres and in different terrains, sand, gravel etc, and the results will be carefully monitored to see where the plants thrive and grow best for future recolonisation projects.
It's a long, thankless task, but the boffins hope that around 60% of the seedlings will survive and give a boost to the ecosystem in the area. Well done to all concered and good luck!