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Ash from the Sierra Bermeja fire reaches the sea and threatens marine life

Ash tide marks between Marbella and Estepona.
Ash tide marks between Marbella and Estepona. / SUR
  • The presence of the residue from the blaze will have a notable impact on the levels of nutrients in the sea, which could lead to the appearance of cyanobacteria, also called blue-green algae

The devastating Sierra Bermeja fire is also threatening other habitats far from the mountain itself. The enormous mass of ash that the fire has been generating since last Wednesday also poses a threat to the marine life in the sea.

The Costa del Sol Coastline Science Group has warned that ash has already reached the sea in the area between Marbella and Estepona, which may affect the biodiversity of the coastline.

The head of the group, Francisco Franco, explains that the ash will have a notable impact on the levels of nutrients in the sea, which could favuor the appearance of cyanobacteria, also called blue-green algae.

Currently the ash is arriving carried by the wind, but the quantity is expected to be greater in the coming days if the long-awaited rain makes an appearance.

Franco says that in the sea there is a balanced chemical composition, so the arrival of ash could cause small increases in concentrations and have effects on the ecosystem. "Small chemical changes can occur and cause the appearance of microalgae or cyanobacteria."

He says that a large cyanobacterial patch could affect zooplankton (floating or weakly swimming animals that rely on water currents to move any great distance) and even bivalves (molluscs) that feed by filtering seawater.

"We must keep one eye open looking for solutions to stop the fire and the other to study the impact it could have on the biodiversity of our coastline," he said.