The Punta de la Mona is one of the crown jewels of La Herradura because of the seabed around. The other jewel, of course, is the seabed off Cerro Gordo.
Off the Punta de La Mona there are orange, coral colonies (Astroides calycularis). A long, long time ago (2-million years +/-) the whole of the Western Mediterranean was full of it but nowadays you can only find it in the Mar de Alborán, and off the coasts of France and Italy. For this reason it is catalogued as an endangered species.
Unfortunately, despite the seabeds off Punta de la Mona being protected areas (Zonas de Especial Conservación or ZEC), many colonies are infested with fishing tackle such as lost nets and anglers’ line. But Mankind is not its only foe as strong storms and invasive species such as the Asian seaweed. And then, we cannot forget, the rise in sea temperature which will eventually turn them all into white skeletons.
However, the good news is that a pioneering programme in Spain and the world in general is designed to repopulate coral reefs and smaller colonies. So far 1,300 colonies (60,000 single coral units) have been planted over eight square metres of seabed in four artificial ‘coral gardens,’ between ten and 14 metres down.
The people behind it are the Asociación Hombre y Territorio (HyT), which is a NGO that has 20 years’ experience in environmental study and conservation through the coral-restauration programme, MedCoral.
They have achieved this coral nursery population by rescuing coral that has been dislodged and placing them in an environment where they can prosper, thanks to a new technique employed. They actually collect coral lava (which are almost like seeds) using pipettes; i.e., a laboratory tool commonly used in chemistry, biology and medicine to transport a measured volume of liquid, often as a media dispenser.
Coral colonies on reefs sexually reproduce during the first full moon of June when both polyps that produce male gametes (reproductive cells) and polyps that produce female gametes release them simultaneously. It is just before this point that teams of four (two collecting and two in support) get to work capturing the lava.
All those involved know that what they are doing today will be something that their children and grandchildren will be able to enjoy, after all, when they started in 2020 there were only two colonies but now in 2023 there are 1,400, thanks to their efforts.
(News: Herradura, Costa Tropical, Granada, Andalucia).