A cleaning boat to filter the microalgae from the Mar Menor


The cleaning boat, during one of its performances.
Ocean Cleaner

Remove microalgae from the surface of the Mar Menor and at the same time artificially oxygenate the water when it is clean. The Andalusian company Ocean Cleaner, based in the port of Santa María de Cadiz, has wanted to do its bit to alleviate the problem of biomass growth in the lagoon due to the large amount of nutrients in the water column. This entity is dedicated to the cleaning up floating spills such as oils, hydrocarbons or microalgae, as well as the filtering of plastics, microplastics and any floating marine debris.

After learning about the serious episode of mortality of marine species last summer in the lagoon, the leaders of Ocean Cleaner contacted the Community to present a project that they had already successfully practiced in other marine ecosystems such as in the waters of the Canary Islands. The objective, absorb surface water from the lagoon to filter algae filamentous or microalgae that grow as a result of the eutrophication process that the Mar Menor. “We can capture large amounts of solid and liquid matter that pollutes a sea up to half a meter deep,” says Santiago Miranda, head of the company’s Commercial and Sustainable Development department, “and return the water to the Mar Menor already clean.” One possibility that the company wants to fit into the project is the “feeding” the water with oxygen in a natural or artificial way: “We would thus try to avoid any anoxic process that may occur in the areas that are always most affected.”

The company, which wants to test its technology in the Mar Menor for at least a few months to verify its effectiveness, has already had a virtual meeting with technicians from the Community, who consulted about its effect on the seabed and the speed of work in the lagoon. The experts of the company proposed to carry out a scientific follow-up after the cleaning to check the impact on the ecosystem and the extraction results.

Years ago the Community used the famous ‘Finnish spider’ for sludge removal and dry in the shallow areas of the lagoon, a work that the Spanish Institute of Oceanography questioned due to its impact on seagrass beds. In this case, the technicians focused during the meeting on the need to suck the decomposing biomass in the deepest areas of the lagoon or even on the seabed, places where ‘chlorophyll pockets’ have been detected.

Recycling

Under the deck of the ship there are machines capable of absorbing and separating solid waste on one side and liquid waste on the other, thus allowing the recycling of both wastes: “an authorized management company could be in charge of recycling all the material that we collect daily. “Miranda points out.

The project, which is also open to marine research from the boat to take advantage of the outlets to the sea, carried out the cleaning of accumulated biomass on the beaches of Tenerife and Gran Canarias, where a ‘sweep’ of the surface was necessary to filter the water. “The success was such that the Canarian Government bought us two boats,” he explains. For now, the company hopes to be able to use its technology in the lagoon.

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