The beach of La Caleta, an icon of Cádiz, is possibly one of the most scrutinized by the thousands of people who enjoy it and by the thousands of composers, photographers or painters who are inspired by its beauty. However, he still keeps secrets: At least ten new marine species have just been discovered.
"There are people who think that new animals can only be discovered in remote places like the Amazon and that everything is already discovered here, it is a false impression, there are many gaps in knowledge, even in the first world," the professor explains to EFE of Zoology of the University of Cádiz Juan Lucas Cervera.
He has coordinated during the last year the research project "La Caleta and associated rocky intertidal: a permanent window to knowledge of marine biodiversity (BioCaleta)", funded by the Biodiversity Foundation and the Ministry for Ecological Transition.
The study has confirmed that there is still "much to discover", even in spaces where so many looks have been laid for as many years as this tourist corner of the capital of Cadiz.
This work has allowed scientists identify 294 animal species that live on this beach and its environment, when the scientific literature so far only quoted twenty.
Among them there are ten marine species detected that have already been proven to be absolutely new to science throughout the world.
The list could increase, because there another 141 faunistic samples that, due to their complexity, have not yet been determined and that could bring some more surprise.
That they are new to science does not mean they were not there forever. Only that until now they had not been seen.
"Now we have more powerful tools than 40 or 50 years ago," explains the coordinator of this research in which 88 species of algae have also been identified.
Before scientists had to rely on morphology to identify the species, something that could "mislead us". Now, with the development of molecular biology techniques and DNA analysis, they reach a "more intimate" level and, for example, have detected that animals that up to now were thought to belong to the same species, are different.
Among the new species the larger one is about two or three centimeters and at first glance it might look like a brown spot under a stone and not a marine animal.
The rest are smaller and harder to see, so much so that scientists have located some of them in the laboratory in a random way among the algae.
The species are mostly tiny mollusks and worms, although there is also a small crustacean.
Now the scientists who have carried out this project are faced with the task of putting them, something that is usually done by first putting the name of the genus to which the animal to which it is "baptized" belongs and then another that can be referenced, for example , to an anatomical characteristic, to the place in which it has been found or even to a person to whom the discovery is dedicated.
Among the ten new species that have been discovered in La Caleta at the moment only the name of a small worm that has been named "Parviplana Jeronimoi" can be public", in honor of the father of the researcher who discovered him while doing his thesis and who is called Jerónimo.
"Our main objective," explains Cervera, "was to give an optimistic counterpoint to the pessimistic view of the people of all of life there who say that this is very bad because they no longer find the species they collect or extract. This is not black or white, because there are many species that, as they are not eaten, go unnoticed, nor was it known that they were there, "he commented.
"An ecosystem is like a megapuzzle and all the pieces, all the species have their function.Another thing is that we can not identify what their function is, but they have it, otherwise they would not be there," he says.