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Undersea map progresses

Posidonia prairies

Posidonia prairies

A couple of years ago I wrote about a planned project which would use funds from the Ecotax to help the environment and ecology of Mallorca. The officially titled Sustainable Tourism Tax is a levy on adult visitors to Mallorca and the nightly amount of the tax depends on the type of accommodation and time and length of stay.

Not many people like it, mostly those who have to pay it and those who have to collect it! However, its purpose is to fund projects which allay the damage to the environment because of mass tourism and help to preserve the island for future generations of locals and visitors.

Back in 2017 it was announced that tax funds would be used to produce a detailed map of the posidonia prairies around the Balearic Islands so that these aquatic plants would not be damaged by boat anchors.

The posidonia plants are vital to the both the marine and terrestrial ecology of Mallorca as they clean and filter the seawater around them and prevent erosion of our beaches. Let's face it, crystalline seas and clean sandy beaches are what the vast majority of summer visitors want to experience.

One of the main threats to the posidonia is the anchors of boats which moor around the coast and rip up the sea grass. With 7,333 posidonia prairies dotted about – some less than 1 hectare – it's very easy for boat owners not to know where they are dropping anchor in regard to the plants.

Having one unified map using the same scale and methodology will help to solve this problem and ensure that out beaches and seawater remain in tip-top condition for many years and tourists to come.

Now, two years later, the project is almost complete, and another few months should see a complete map available on an app which boat owners can easily use to avoid damaging the plants. Phase 1 of the work involved gathering all known maps together, phase 2 used photointerpretation to fill in the gaps between the maps, and now phase 3 will use lateral scanning sonar to complete the process , scanning to a depth of 35 metres and over an area of 356 square kilometres.

It should all be finished and online by May 2020 and will be well worth the time, effort, and money if it keeps our sea and beaches in pristine condition for us all to enjoy!