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A diver shows a Posidonia specimen during a replanting campaign. SUR
Invasive algae and rising temperatures threatening vital marine ecosystems for sea life along Costa del Sol
Environment

Invasive algae and rising temperatures threatening vital marine ecosystems for sea life along Costa del Sol

There are now just four Posidonia meadow sites remaining in Malaga province, in Nerja, Mijas, Marbella and Estepona

Ignacio Lillo

Malaga

Tuesday, 2 January 2024, 17:37

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Alarm bells have been sounded as an invasive algae in the Alboran Sea continues to pose a major threat to the main refuges for sea life along the Costa del Sol.

Researchers have raised concerning the situation of the Posidonia meadows, one of the most valuable marine plant ecosystems in the Mediterranean for its capacity to generate life, but mainly due to invasive algae, it has been reduced to just four sites in Malaga province, on the coasts of the municipalities of Nerja, Mijas, Marbella and Estepona.

In Nerja, the meadows are scattered along several coves and beaches, compared to years ago when they formed a continuous meadow that bordered the entire coastline. Meanwhile, in Mijas, there are two areas within the Calahonda special area of conservation (SAC): Punta de Calaburra and Cala de Calahonda. In Marbella, they are found in Cabopino and in numerous small scattered meadows. In Estepona, there are two main populations: El Saladillo and Punta de Plata.

The loss of areas formerly populated by these plants has reached 60% in some areas of Malaga, mainly due to three causes: habitat deterioration due to human activities; an increase in water temperature and invasive algae.

Threat to biodiversity

Cristina Moreno, development director of the Aula del Mar Mediterráneo foundation said conserving Posidonias meadows in the Alboran Sea is crucial as they are major CO2 sinks, produce oxygen, clean the water and serve as shelter and food for fauna. "They are very fragile ecosystems, home to many marine species and their young, such as fish, seahorses, crustaceans and molluscs," she said.

But studies show that they are under threat due to the effects of climate change, as algae tends to rise due to an increase in sea temperatures.

However, there is still hope as there are still several pockets along the Malaga coastline that need to be protected. Moreno said the key is to raise awareness among local residents, starting with the youngest, in secondary schools. "Through workshops, we explain to them that they are lucky enough to live next to seagrass meadows, so that they get to know this ecosystem and are able to bring this awareness to other people, so that they do not disappear, because our health depends on ecosystems such as Posidonia meadows," she added.

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