An underground sewer of faecal waters in full tourist destination | Society

For tourism there is only one Costa del Sol. It is the western one, the best known and destination of millions of people who come at any time of the year to enjoy the existing beaches between Torremolinos and Manilva. It is a territory where there are other municipalities such as Benalmádena, Fuengirola or Marbella, where the wild urban development has configured "a large cement facade on the coast", according to Greenpeace, what makes this area, "probably, in the more built around the Mediterranean. " In return, the situation is different in the eastern part of the Costa del Sol, more internationally unknown and occupies a coastal strip of just over 50 kilometers between Rincon de la Victoria and Nerja. The urban pressure is lower and there are still concrete free spaces that must be conserved "in an indisputable and rigorous way for the next generations".

One of the ones with the lowest human footprint is the Acantilados de Maro and Cerro Gordo, declared as a Natural Area in 1989, which prevented the development of the urbanizations that have proliferated so much in other areas. It is the natural pearl of the Malaga coast, whose protection covers about 14 kilometers of coastline and penetrates a mile into the Alboran Sea. It is located in the municipality of Nerja and hides turquoise water coves, waterfalls and cliffs up to one hundred meters high. But the place is much more than a beautiful landscape. Its cliffs are the territory of the mountain goat, the chameleon and unique examples of vegetation such as the Malaga Evergreen or the Athamanta vaydedana, both included in the Red List of the Endangered Flora of Andalusia. However, it is the seabed that "holds the greatest treasure in the form of a spectacular biodiversity", according to Fernando Alarcón, responsible for the company Equilibrio Marino and who dives in these waters for almost three decades. As he explains, the rocky bottoms are a great factor for the presence of many species such as cuttlefish, sponges, starfish or polychaete worms. Also of the starred orange coral (Astroides calycularis), a species included in the National Catalog of Endangered Species that finds in this place "one of its last refuges", according to the publication Itineraries of the natural landscape Acantilados de Maro - Cerro Gordo, distributed by the Aula del Mar de Málaga.

The richness of these sea beds is mainly due to the existence of large posidonia meadows. It is an alga that functions as a submerged forest, exerting a carbon dioxide sink and expelling oxygen, generating a great amount of life around it. In addition, it is also the place chosen by many fish to lay their eggs, since the fry can hide from predators and helps the waters are clearer. Worse are in danger. In his periodic dives, Alarcón is accustomed to finding dirt among these algae: "there are wipes, plastics, papers and also fecal remains", underlines the submariner.

"It is the most important ecosystem in the Mediterranean and is being very affected by the spills because it is very sensitive," adds Rafael Yus, responsible for Ecologists in Action in Nerja. As he explains, the continuous spills next to the beaches of the municipality generate "numerous problems". "This wastewater carries a series of components such as heavy metals or chemicals - such as drugs, cosmetics or detergents that end up in the drain - that affect marine life. It is a potential environmental disaster, "says the ecologist. Yus also points out that the great load of organic matter in the sea from untreated waters is displaced by marine currents. These, sometimes, corner the dirt in one of the many creeks existing on the coast of Nerja, generating water eutrophication: the excess of organic matter causes the algae that feed on it to proliferate without control and, when they die, They decompose by depleting oxygen, which impedes life.


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