CHEMICAL levels in the Mar Menor area of the Murcia coastline are dangerously high, warns the Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO), and could lead to a repeat of scenes last year when thousands of dead fish were washed up onto beaches in the area.
Official data from tests carried out on April 1 show chlorophyll levels at a critical 4.12 micrograms per litre, with a transparency of 1.2 metres.
Last October, levels reached 4.66 resulting in a critical lack of oxygen in the water leaving thousands of fish and crustaceans suffocating on the shores of beaches at Villananitos and La Puntica.
IEO scientist, Juan Manuel Ruiz, said “the lagoon is in a very bad state, because nothing has been done.”
He added: “Last year chlorophyll began to rise in a linear fashion, and on October 29, after the second DANA it reached 38.5 micrograms per litre. An outrage.”
Ruiz warned that if the situation follows the same pattern this year, the high levels will produce significant amounts of green algae and other parasitic sealife that suck the oxygen out of the water.
Pedro Garcia from the environmental association ANSE revealed “the situation is worse than ever, at least at this time, because no measures have been taken by the administrations.”
A recent study by the Ministry shows 1,575 tonnes of nitrates, predominantly from fertilisers, were dumped into the Mar Menor, with a daily average of 411 kilos in 2018/2019.
As a result “an area of more than 9,000 hectares of the lagoon floor was devastated,” – almost half of the Mar Menor – claim IEO researchers.
Murcia’s Minister of the Environment, Antonio Luengo, stressed at a press conference on Tuesday that the data and warnings from the scientists on the Mar Menor advisory board “put us all on edge.”
He asked the Ministry for Ecological Transition to implement its “zero discharge plan.”