The nightmare repeats itself. The Mar Menor is beginning to show the first serious signs of the arrival of a new ‘green soup’ and another episode of anoxia (lack of oxygen in the lagoon) in the coming weeks due to the proliferation of algae that arise from the entry of water with nutrients, the increase in temperature, the lack of oxygen in some areas or low salinity, among other causes.
The committee in charge of evaluating the ecological state of the lagoon met in the morning in San Esteban to analyze its current situation. “The Mar Menor is telling us that it is not right.” This was stated yesterday by the spokesman for the monitoring committee of the state of the lagoon and head of the Fisheries and Aquaculture service of the Ministry of Water, Agriculture and the Environment, EMilo Maria Dolores, who stressed that “the conditions are beginning to exist” for the ecosystem to suffer again “another process of eutrophication” and a new episode of anoxia that could again cause the death of millions of fish and different species that inhabit the lagoon. The spokesman also indicated that with the passing of days and the coming weeks “the situation is not going to improve.”
Still, Emilio Maria Dolores he does not believe that the episode of anoxia is going to be brought forward, despite the fact that this situation is taking place “in shallow waters and with high temperatures”, which, according to the committee member, does not make it possible to predict if there will be an “imminent” episode.
The proliferation of algae Chaetomorpha linum, called ‘angel hair’, have begun to make an appearance in numerous areas of the Mar Menor due to the high concentrations of nitrogen in the water. Emilio María Dolores warned that only yesterday they were entering through the Rambla del Albujon into the lagoon about 653 liters per second of contaminated water (an average of 152 micrograms per litre).
In addition, the total amount of water that entered from January 1 to yesterday was 5.1 cubic hectometres, “five times higher than last year” in this same period of time. The spokesman pointed out that this water has “very high nitrate and phosphorous loads” and that, consequently, it favors the appearance of episodes of eutrophication in the lagoon.
For this reason the ecosystem itself is transforming excess nutrients into algae. Only in the month of April 2,400 tons of algae have been removed, when the worst case scenario estimated by the regional government was about 800 tons. Emilio María Dolores explained that more than a hundred people work daily to remove these algae under a protocol from the Directorate of the Natural Environment, in order not to put the fauna and flora of the ecosystem at risk.
Waiting for authorization
Given the data that shows the lack of oxygen in several areas, the General Directorate of the Mar Menor has made the specifications to tender the test that aims to oxygenate the water through microbubbles on a volume of water of 150,000 cubic meters and an area of six hectares. will run in the Yacht Club La Isleta de La Manga with the aim of helping to raise oxygen levels in specific areas.
The project consists of injecting oxygen with microbubbles into the lagoon through microperforated pipes that may have “a saving effect” at the local level, in concrete bags with low concentrations of oxygen (hypoxia) to prevent the total lack of oxygen: the objective is get to dilute or dissolve these small masses of water with anoxia. To carry out this trial, there is a lack of authorization from the Ministry of Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge (Miteco).
The trial will last for two weeks and the results will be studied for two more weeks., with which the objective is to be able to have conclusive data on its effectiveness by the end of May. In addition, the committee reported that in the last two weeks three pockets of hypoxic water have appeared that have ended up dissolving this weekend due to the action of the wind. These pockets were formed by the putrefaction of algae in shallow water at a high temperature.
Also as a consequence of the drop in salinity in the lagoon, the colony of shellfish that live in the Mar Menor are also at critical risk of extinction due to the existence of a parasite that kills them. It also causes the appearance of species more typical of the Mediterranean than of the Mar Menor and that end up being fished, such as octopus or cuttlefish
Finally, the spokesman indicated that during the months of March and April about 50 square hectometers of fresh water from rain fell on the Mar Menor surface.
“The death of this jewel is a loss for all of Europe”
“I ask you to focus on the Mar Menor because the death of this jewel is a loss for all of us, for all of Europe.” This was expressed yesterday Murcian MEP for the PSOE Marcos Ros, who took his complaint to the European Parliament in the face of the imminent degradation of the ecosystem.
Ros warned the Chamber that the salty lagoon, “one of the largest in Europe, dies before the scandalous inaction of the most directly responsible: the Government of the Region of Murcia “.
The socialist did not miss the opportunity and charged harshly against the Murcian Executive during his appearance: “He did nothing after the ‘green soup’ 2016, he did nothing after the death of thousands of fish in 2019 and he did nothing when in 2021 the fish that died were counted by tons. The only thing he does is blame others when the competences are theirs”.
Finally, he recalled that even the European Parliament and the deputies were able to verify his status in a mission “despite the fact that they tried to hide the reality”.