Eruption in La Palma: If the lava reaches the sea, the fish banks will take two years to recover

Some animals were left without oxygen to breathe, others finished cutlery of ash. The underwater eruption on the island of El Hierro of 2011 caused the massiv

Eruption in La Palma: If the lava reaches the sea, the fish banks will take two years to recover

Some animals were left without oxygen to breathe, others finished cutlery of ash. The underwater eruption on the island of El Hierro of 2011 caused the massive death of the fish that were in the area and other organisms that could not have time to flee. He perfectly remembers Alberto Brito Hernández, who was on board the ship Ramón Margalef investigating the ravages that a volcano causes quickly in marine fauna.

Now, 10 years later, another volcano in the neighboring island of La Palma has begun to roar and the magma tail is still advancing: "I hope it does not reach the sea, that is my desire because the impact can be great," says this professor of the University of La Laguna, considered one of the world's largest specialists in Marine Biology.

As he explains in Telefónica Interview from Tenerife, "the submarine volcano of iron is different from the old summit because it is inside the marine reserve but withdrawn from the coast. When Issue a large amount of CO2 and sulfur, acidified the water and pH lowered a Heap. The water got up and many fish died, some great ones like the swordfish, because it altered its physiology, something visible in its bleeding gills, "he explains.

Organisms with a calcium carbonate skeleton, such as molluscs, were very affected by the submarine eruption of 2011: "In acidic waters, larvae do not fit skeleton and die while adults suffer wear," he says. He also remembers the case of a black coral forest "that was covered by ash, which prevented him from feeding," she recalls.

And cetaceans? "They did not die, first because there were not many and those who had fled. In the palm there is more, especially dolphin mule, but if the lava arrives at sea, it probably does not believe them because they do not breathe through gills and they will probably flee."

If the lava reaches the sea, the water will be cloudy, with more acidity and greater temperature. The organisms that can flee will be from the area. Those who have little mobility or live in the rock will die.

The damage caused by the lava from the palm volcano If it reaches the sea, explains, "will depend on the volume of magma that will enter, the width of the front and the time that is entering washer in the sea, that will condition everything "He says this newly retired biologist.

The process that will occur however, it is well known: "The difference in temperature will cause the water to boil and generate a considerable cloud of steam that can carry toxic elements. About whether it is toxic or there is no discussion between vulcanologists because In the sea you have salts, basically sodium chloride with other components such as the fluoride that, when evaporated, may be, but it is not clear, "sums up.

"Where it will have effects on is fishing because many resources will move away from the coast or die," says this marine biologist, which esteem in about two years the time necessary for a marine ecosystem to recover and returns to normal. "Too much time for fishermen, who live up to date, I hope it does not reach the sea," he says.

The estimates made by scientists point out that the lava would lead to the west area of the island. The Biologist Beatriz Ayala, spokesman for the Canary Islands Office, emphasizes the importance that the waters near the Fuencaliente Marine Strip have "both for the ecological wealth of its funds and its importance for the fishing fleet artisanal palm tree, which could be seen Affected if the lava reaches the sea. "

However, from the biological point of view, the recovery of an ecosystem over a period of between one and two years is considered quite fast: "As for the volcano, everything is normalized. The currents of the sea bring spores, larvae and Quickly produces a colonization process. After a year it is likely that there is a lot of life. In addition, eruptions provide nutrients that increase the Plankton and with it fish resources, "says Alberto Brito.

Terrestrial ecosystems razed by lava are another story: "Reconization may take hundreds of years, so in Lanzarote there is no vegetation in cast, only lichens and some insects. In addition, eruptions are an opportunity for invasive species that are Opportunists, can facilitate your ticket and that is a problem, "he warns.

Palm and iron share many things, in addition to its reduced size and youth. The waters that surround them are warmer than the eastern Canary Islands such as Lanzarote and Fuerteventura, and are those that have the most tropical nature of the archipelago, explains Alberto Brito, which highlights the large number of unique species they have: "on land, Endemicism is enormous, in plants and insects. In the sea, not because the currents tend to homogenize the populations, that is, the same species is not very different genetically in the Canary Islands than in Portugal ".

The earthquakes prior to eruption put many animals on guard, who have a sixth sense species to get safe, as if they perceive a sense of alarm

"In an eruption, the vegetation is the one that suffers the most although in our Canary Islands there are adapted species because they are volcanic islands, the nature that looks devastated seeks after a time spaces to recover. They are species that have an atavistic sense that takes them To reconstruct, "reflects Tony Gallardo, director of the Biosphere Reserve of Fuerteventura.

The impact on the fauna varies according to the species and its ability to get safe: "The earthquakes prior to eruption put on guard many animals, which have a kind of sixth sense to get safe, as if they perceive a feeling of alarm . This is the case of birds, who can escape and usually do so, as well as some terrestrial animals. Those who have the ones who live in caves or closed spaces or do not give them time to get away from danger, which is what It has been with some reptiles, in the Canary Islands, and are probably the ones who have suffered the most, "says Gallardo, doctor and promoter of the program to reintroduce the turtle Boba in Fuerteventura.

35% of the territory of La Palma is protected, which gives an idea of its wealth and the state of conservation of place that has earned him the well-deserved title of the beautiful island

According to Beatriz Ayala, "the impact on biodiversity will depend on the amount of volcanic material that is emitted and the duration of the eruption. The cow's head area, where it started, is in the environment of the Old Summit Natural Park and stands out because It has spectacular Canarian pine forests, which year after year has been very affected by fires, and laurisilva. Numerous animals live associated with species that are in jaca by the volcano, there are endemic and threatened birds such as Laurisilva's pigeon, the Pinzones, hawks or graves. Also reptiles such as lizards and perennies ".

"We are volcanic islands, and within the Canary Islands, La Palma is very special," sums up this biologist from the WWF Marine Program. "The 35% of his territory is protected, which gives an idea of his wealth and the state of conservation of place that has earned him the well-deserved title of the Isla Bonita».

Updated Date: 24 September 2021, 04:37

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