Divers introduce the new corals off La Herradura / j. sánchez

Divers start to repopulate La Herradura corals

Coral Soul, which has recovered 115 colonies, has introduced two lots of nursery-grown corals to save the endangered native species from the effects of fishing

PILAR GARCÍA-TREVIJANO

A group of scientists from the NGO Coral Soul and Coral Guardian have started a project to restore the coral reefs of La Herradura in Granada province. The new organisation has introduced two lots of nursery-grown corals off the coast at a depth of 30 metres below sea level.

The reefs of Punta de la Mona, which lie between La Herradura and neighbouring Almuñécar, are home to dense populations of endangered species of corals, many of which have become damaged, broken and entangled in fishing lines. This ecosystem is one of the most diverse in the Mediterranean and is home to a population of candelabrum coral, which cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

Divers and researchers from the universities of Cadiz, Seville and Granada are taking part in the project and last week during a dive they placed two lots of coral; one at a depth of 34 metres and the other at 37 metres, in a bid to recover damaged corals found in 'gardens' at depths of up to 45 metres.

Marina Palacios, a marine scientist and environmentalist who has been working with cold water corals for six years, is coordinating the plan to clean and repair the seabed of Almuñécar-La Herradura.

Fishing waste

In 2021 scientists tested nursery-grown coral at a depth of 30 metres, which has succeeded in restoring 115 coral colonies. Another 94 are currently recovering. However, Palacios warned of the danger posed by fishing at Punta de la Mona.

The team has already removed 800 kilograms of waste, of which they say ninety-five per cent came from fishing. "We are calling for the need to support the proposal to ban recreational fishing, it is necessary to protect the area. We are not against fishing, but we are against the consequences of the activity in Punta de la Mona. There are many places to practise the sport on the coast," Palacios said.

The NGO also carries out environmental awareness activities and is organising a conference, together with Almuñécar town hall and other organisations, which will take place in June in the town’s Palacete de La Najarra, to teach children about the richness of the seabed and the need to protect it.