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The Posidonia oceanica is a marine flowering plant endemic to the Mediterranean Sea. Preferably inhabiting soft substrates, they are found at variable depths ranging from 0 to 40 m. Its horizontal development over the s u b s t r a t e p r o d u c e s t h e s o - c a l l e d meadows, which, extending hundreds of square kilometres across the coastline, are specially abundant in the Balearic Island’s sandy beaches.
These plants not only benefit the sea floor but its properties also favour the emerged beach areas. The Posidonia oceanica loses a great part of its leaves during the fall, coinciding with our island’s most rainy season, and sprouts new leaves at the begging of spring. The waves wash up part of these leaves to the emerged zones together with sand from the ocean floor that is deposited with the Posidonia.
This causes the sand level of the emerged zones in the beaches to increase. Moreover, Posidonia accumulat ion act s as an ef fect i ve natural defence system since it considerably reduces and eliminates the energy incidence of the waves over the beaches and the storm effects, therefore aiding in maintaining the sand beaches year after year.
The systematic withdrawal of Posidonia oceanica accumulations, also commonly denominated algae, generate short and medium-term impacts.
This withdrawal is motivated by the great number of people, tourists and residents who perceive the presence of plant wastes as a nuisance, and
consequently transmit their complaints to the tourist service centres, which communicate the same to the administration in charge of managing shoreline clean-ups. A great deal of this complaints are originated by the unawareness of the Balearic’s coasts environmental values.
These actions carried out during the past decades have caused the coastline to retreat, as well as the beach surface and its volume. It has also affected the dune morphologies.
Therefore, the Posidonia oceanic leaves on the beaches represent the best natural mechanism we have at our disposal for protecting and maintaining our beaches. We must all collaborate in allowing the same to carry out its function and keeping the excellent quality of our beaches.
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