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Ecology news from Santa Ponsa

Sea grass prairies on the up

posidonia diver

News about an aquatic plant might not seem tremendously exciting at first glance, but when you realise the ecological value of the humble posidonia, it takes on enormous significance.

Let me explain; posidonia, an aquatic plant that has thrived in the Mediterranean for millenia has an important function in keeping the waters crystal clear by filtering sediment from them. Not only that, but they also anchor sand on the beaches and prevent their erosion. Two pretty important things for the world in general and Mallorca in particular which relies on its kilometres of sand beaches and crystalline seas in its tourist industry.

Nowadays the posidonia prairies are under attack from several sources; pollution, the anchors of many boats, and big economic projects. A couple of years ago I wrote about a project to recuperate the sea meadows damaged by the installation of undersea electrical cables linking Mallorca to Ibiza.

Interim results of the project are just in and the results show that the methods used are both technically and economically viable and can be repeated in other parts of the world. Funded to the tune of €409,000 by the electrical company and carried out by the ecological body IMEDEA, both seeds and cuttings from posidonia in other areas were replanted in the Bay of Santa Ponsa to replace damaged plants.

There was a 60% success rate in the over 900 specimens replanted and this increased to over 80% for the ones planted at a greater depth. It demonstrates that the programme can be replicated in the future – for example in the Canary Islands where similar electrical cable laying is planned – and also provides vital information to the scientific community.

However, it ensures that we holiday-makers, and particularly scuba divers, can enjoy the lovely waters and beaches of Mallorca for a long time to come.

Photos from IMEDEA