The consequences of global warming begin to be seen: Spain deserts, and the Mediterranean enters temperatures never seen in the entire history of which we have records. And if we add overfishing and pollution to the latter, we understand how marine life has to be added to the list of main victims.
And it is with this in mind that BMW completes a project on the Catalan coast to try to preserve the marine life of the Mediterranean as much as possible. The brand has invited us to attend the last steps to create and mark out a biotope or reef created from calcium carbonate and sunk in the sea.
A reef to fill the Mediterranean with life
Everything has been prepared on the coast of Torredembarra, about 50 kilometers southwest of Barcelona. The seabed of that coast is made up of 99% sand, something that prevents the biosphere of the sea from developing as it happens in other areas full of rocks and natural structures such as the Costa Brava. BMW has collaborated with the port and the town hall of the coastal town with the construction of a biotope in the shape of a a mountain” consisting of calcium carbonate.
Representation of the calcium carbonate biotope on the Torredembarra coast. Source: Natural Art Reef
The mountain has a diameter of more than 100 meters and a height of 22 meters, although being placed at a depth of 34 meters, its “peak” is placed at 12 meters at the bottom of the sea. The calcium carbonate to create the biotope has been extracted from a quarry 15 km from the coast, where there is a fossil deposit precisely of the marine life that existed in that location 25 million years ago. In total they are 40,000 tons of material which used to be part of the sea and now does so again, occupying 35,000 cubic meters. For marine bacteria, the perfect mattress to form a community.
This biotope will be surrounded by 12 smaller biotopes, created by hand from the same material by the director of Natural Art Reef Miquel Rota. Its function: to serve as an anchor for the buoys that will delimit the main biotope, thus marking it so that fishermen do not do their work in the area and allowing boats to anchor to these buoys instead of to the bottom where they can damage the biotopes.
We have been able to see firsthand how one of the last biotopes of this system has been submerged, with the help of a marine crane and several divers. Each of these natural “anchors” weighs 2.5 tons:
One of the biotopes that will beacon the main “mountain” is submerged with the help of a crane and several divers.
These types of actions are not new: we have been sinking structures such as ships to turn them into reefs (for example in Mexico) with the intention of creating a biome of life in shallow areas of seas and oceans. “The structures create ocean currents that move water and bring in oxygen, and the fish go crazy with that,” Miquel tells us. Another advantage is that the rock material prevents the PH of the surrounding water from getting too low.
Miquel Rota, director of Natural Art Reef and promoter of the project, together with one of the calcium carbonate biotypes that will beacon the “mountain” of the same material.
What is unique in this case of Torredembarra is that the biotype is completely natural, created from that calcium carbonate transported from a quarry. Miquel, visibly enthusiastic, emphasizes that we are at the culmination of a job that has taken years to promote and that has finally become a reality.
I have spoken with some biologist who criticizes the carbon dioxide that may have been produced by the trucks that brought us all the calcium carbonate. And it is true that those trucks emit carbon dioxide, but they would have emitted it in other jobs as well. You have to think about the benefits: in this biotope I have already come across fish that I had not seen in the 50 years that I have been diving here. And besides: in a thousand years not one building you see will be left standing. But this mountain will still be there.
The benefits They are not just environmental: the only maintenance that this biotope requires is that of the buoys that can break in storms and surveillance so that no one fishes directly on it. Also, the recreational scuba diving that you can attract becomes a source of income.
In total, the Torredembarra town hall, together with other entities, has invested a total of 800,000 euros in building the calcium carbonate mountain. BMW has provided a figure that it prefers not to disclose for natural beacons, and the intention is to promote this gesture so that other areas in the same conditions do the same.
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