Recreational Diving affects Coral Orange at the Tropical Coast of Granada

The study on the impact of recreational diving on a strip of the tropical coast of Granada on the orange coral reveals that there have been more dives than allowed each year, to which are added the inexperienced divers. Consequently, this type of coral, a species endemic to the Mediterranean that is listed as vulnerable in the Spanish Catalogue of Endangered Species and the Red Book of Invertebrates of Andalusia, is being affected.

SPAIN – Researchers from the Marine Biological Laboratory at the University of Seville and the Man Association and Territory compared an area easily accessible from the beach and does not require authorization for diving, located in the Special Area of Conservation Cliffs and Seabed Point Mona to a control area, located in the marine protected area of the Natural Spot Cliffs of Maro-Cerro Gordo, where other access authorization and whose land is required is more limited.

The findings, published in the journal Ocean & Coastal Management, point to significant differences between the number and size of detached fragments of coral located in each of the areas, which could be due to the greater number of impacts with diving equipment occurring in the area with more use.

The maximum load capacity threshold diving pointed out by several studies is between 500 and 5,000 dives per site per year. However, in the area of free access 8,000 dives per year are achieved while in the controlled area does not exceed 1,000.

“This high number of dives must add the low experience of a significant number of divers who frequent the area, which may be reflected in a lower buoyancy control in many cases and therefore cause damage to the marine environment contact unintended consequence of divers or diving equipment with coral orange,” said the professor at the University of Seville Free Espinosa.

Orange coral has a skeleton of calcium carbonate fragments with relative ease, hence the importance of not supporting fins or hit the colonies. Besides being a protected species, their conservation is important because it is a species whose structure houses other marine organisms live by these researchers, as indicated by the positive results of another study developed

“Many of the usual divers in the area are aware that the marine environment is being degraded and would favor some kind of control is set to prevent more damage to the marine biodiversity of the tropical coast of Granada,” Espinosa said.

Conservation measures

In this situation, experts propose two measures of preventive conservation.  On the one hand, reduce the number of annual dives below the maximum threshold load capacity diving by diversifying into areas nearby dive and, secondly, that all schools and diving clubs operating in the area incorporate a briefing or brief introduction on protected species are located in the area of immersion, and simple guidelines are provided to users on how to act during the dive.

“With indications of no more than ten minutes it is enough to instill an environmental sensitivity diver who will be more careful with everything around him in the water,” he concluded.

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