Cool in the Pool

You may be surprised when I tell you that we do not possess a swimming pool. We had guests staying with us the other day, for a week or so. Friends of theirs, who were here on holiday, were aghast to hear they stayed with us in a house without a piscina. The truth is that I would quite like to have a cooling-off swim basin but my wife is not in favour of my idea. You may also be shocked to hear that we don’t have air-conditioning in our house, either. I am totally against the environmental insanity and the harmful effect of air-conditioning, health-wise. Luckily my wife agrees with me on that one. Okay, it is hot out there right now, I grant you that. But temperatures will drop within a week or two; so, what’s the big deal? We keep our shutters shut all day long, and there is always a slight breeze and sufficient circulation of air in the house.

As for swimming: there is a large municipal piscina less than a mile down the road from our house with two large pools, a jacuzzi, a steam room and a sauna. And even better, there is the sea less than twenty minutes from here, by car, with two dozen bays and coves and beaches within half an hour’s drive, and some 250 beaches in Mallorca, all told. Would you rather swim in the pool or would you rather float in the Mediterranean Sea? That’s an easy answer, I would have thought.

The photo was taken near s’Alquería Blanca, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 22nd, 2012. The time was 22:40:14.

Cool in the Pool

The Posidonia Seagrass Crisis

The Posidonia oceanica sea grass, also known as Neptune Grass, is under threat. This marine plant is of an utmost importance to the coastal ecosystem of the Mediterranean Sea and our marine ecosystem. The plant is seen as an indicator of clean waters, and its presence is a sign of a lack of pollution. We are lucky here in Mallorca in as much as we have a widespread presence of this plant in our coastal waters. Sadly, there are now reports that this important guardian of the ecological balance and harmony of the Mallorcan marine life is in decline. The decline is attributed to mechanical damage from trawling and boats, both fishing and leisure, from excessive coastal development and eutrophication, which causes lack of oxygen and leads to the demise of marine life, including plants and seafood, shrimp, crabs and small fish.

I wish our politicians would not spend all their time and effort and the taxpayers’ money saving our banking system but would spend some time and money on the environment that is actually there to protect us and our future generations.

Why are we all so blind?

In case I get some wisecrack comments on the state of the beach shown in the photo (bottom), let me tell you that we should be pleased to find some of our beaches full with remnants of dead sea grass. This natural debris is a sign that the Posidonia sea grass is still in existence, working away in its wondrous ways of making our sea water clean and with it, our air. The day the debris does not wash up on our beaches any longer, will be a sure sign that the Posidonia has become extinct. And extinct is forever. Let’s not forget that.

The photo (top) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of deepbluehome.blogspot.com.es.

Thank you very much.

The photo (bottom) was taken near Can Picafort, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: March 30th, 2012. The time was 11:41:56.

The Posidonia Seagrass Crisis

All is Not Well in Portocolom

All is not well in Portocolom. This puerto on the East coast of this island enjoys Mallorca’s largest natural harbour bay. Now, there is reason for concern; Portocolom’s harbour basin and its marine ecosystem are at risk.

A report by IMEDEA (Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Studies) was published earlier this week in the journal Estuaries and Coasts. Scientists from IMEDEA, UIB (University of the Balearic Islands) and CSIC (Higher Council for Scientific Research) have warned that the bay of Portocolom is in danger due to lack of oxygen, excess nutrients and rising global sea temperature in the area. Research carried out during 2009 and 2010 suggests that “a combination of local stress factors such as human overextend and the gradual global warming threaten marine ecosystems of this Mallorcan port and thus, its conservation”. Apparently, increasing water temperature in Portocolom decreases oxygen which marine organisms need to live.

The study was performed in order to stop the deterioration of the marine ecosystem in Portocolom. The study was undertaken by researchers at the CSIC, Raquel Vaquer-Sunyer, Carlos M. Duarte, Gabriel Jordà and Sergio Ruiz-Halpern.

What a nuisance, just as the batle (mayor) of Felanitx, Gabriel Tauler, was getting ready to expand the mooring facilities for boats in Portocolom. Does he read the IMEDEA studies? Will someone tell him? Does he care?

The photo was taken in Portocolom, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: June 7th, 2012. The time was 17:41:04.

All is Not Well in Portocolom

Save Our Souls

Whenever we have friends staying with us here in Mallorca, they inevitably ask, are there any nice, uncrowded beaches, and do we perhaps know somewhere that other people don’t know about? We can help, sometimes, but there are not many beaches left or Calas (bays or coves) that would be easily accessible but free from any hoi polloi.

Most of the beaches in Mallorca are in or near built-up zones. There are hardly any beaches or bays left in a virgin state of nature any longer. Promoters and the hotel lobby have seen to that.

There are a few exceptions, and they seem to have maintained their exceptional condition thanks to some legal protection. A planning law was introduced some 20 years ago, giving special ANEI protection to certain areas of nature deemed of special interest to the Balearic society (Área natural d’especial interès). In 1991, there were 47 ANEI areas designated in Mallorca, 19 in Menorca, 10 in Ibiza and 8 in Formentera.

Cala Blanca between Port d’Andratx and Camp de Mar is one such unspoilt bay. This area was not initially part of the ANEI protected zoning scheme, but was included four years ago, much to the delight of some local conservationists who had formed Salvem Cala Blanca, a lobby group raising awareness of some areas of Mallorca that needed to be maintained free of cement and wild urbanisation.

Alas, things seem to have changed. A new conservative government is now in charge in Palma, the Island council is now also run by conservative powers and so is the local municipal council in Andratx. The Partido Popular conservatives are seen as hotel-industry friendly; never mind any legal restrictions. A planning application has been presented by a hotel chain to build a large hotel complex in the vicinity of the ANEI protected area near Cala Blanca. A protest demonstration was staged in Cala Blanca last Sunday (see photo below); protesters voiced their concern about a complete and utter hotelification of this island now that La Crisis would seem to allow for any old excuse to shift the goal posts. Never mind the environment; bankers have the say now and politicians are relegated to puppets on the string. Shame on you, Sera. (Sera is the nickname of José Ramon Bauzá, the president of the Govern de les Illes Balears).

May I remind you that Cala Blanca lies on the edge of the Sierra de Tramuntana mountain range, recently awarded Patrimonio de la Humanidad World Heritage Status by UNESCO as an area of great natural and cultural significance.

Save our souls. Will somebody please come to the rescue? We are drowning.

Both photos were borrowed from the Internet, the top one courtesy of zingarate.com, and the bottom one, courtesy of andratxnews.com.

Grazie tanto, and

muchas gracias.

Save Our Souls

Biodiversity and Conservation

The Institut Mediterrani d’Estudis Avançats (IMEDEA, Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Studies) is a research centre, jointly run by the Consell Superior d’Investigacions Científiques (CSIC) and the Universitat de les Illes Balears (UIB). The objective of IMEDEA is to develop high-quality scientific and technical research in the area of Natural Resources, with special emphasis on interdisciplinary research in the Mediterranean area.

One of the many projects of IMEDEA is the Estació d’Investigació Costanera, a Coastal Investigation Centre, based at the Cap Salines lighthouse, near Ses Salines (see photo). The Investigation Centre busies itself with observation and research of the marine environment, especially that of the Reserva Marina del Migjorn de Mallorca, a marine protection area covering the southern part of Mallorca’s coast and stretching from Cap Blanc in the West to Cala Figuera in the East. There are three other Reservas Marinas in Mallorca, the Reserva Marina de la Bahía de Palma, the Reserva Marina del Levante de Mallorca, and the Reserva Marina de las Islas Malgrats. They all come under the supervision of the Coastal Investigation Centre and are all overseen by the Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Studies, together with the Conselleria d’Agricultura, Medi Ambient i Territori of the Govern de les Illes Balears.

For further information you can get inspired by concerns such as Biodiversity and Conservation, Ecology and Marine Resources, Global Change Research, and Marine Technologies, Operational Oceanography and Sustainability, courtesy of the IMEDEA website, if you so wish.

The photo was taken near Ses Salines, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: May 9th, 2012. The time was 16:28:01.

Biodiversity and Conservation

The Salt of the Earth

I have decided to give up on alcohol, well, almost. There will be no more spirits from now on, no more Cava, no more cocktails, no spritzers, no highballs, no beer, no cider. There will be one exception though, red wine. One cannot live in Mallorca and offer a daily photo blog and not be involved with wine, wine making, wine festivals or wine tasting. So it is going to be Vino Tinto in, everything else out, from now on.

That makes me sound a serious alcoholic when I don’t think I am (that’s what alcoholics tend to say, don’t they). I think I may have ten units during a one month period, when that may be the intake of many people in a night out or two.

I make mention of this because yesterday, I participated in an activity that the Els Amics dels Closos put on in and around Felanitx, a six weeks long Cicle del Vi a Felanitx (Felanitx wine series). It started off three weeks go with a round-table colloquium on the recent changes in vinicultural production, here in Mallorca. Then, last week we could visit the Bodega of Ànima Negra to test their offerings. Yesterday, a group of some 35 interested folks were invited to visit the Celler of 4 Kilos where we heard Francesc Grimalt talk about the most important component of wine making, the soil. We also tasted two different red wines in five different states of evolution (see photo above), albeit not their latest creation, Gallinas & Focas.

Next week, we will visit the Bodega of Vi d’Auba and a week later, that of Armero i Adrover. The wine tasting Bodega visits are open to the public but places are limited. You can put your name down in person at Paperería Ramon Llull in Felanitx; attendance fee is a modest 2 €.

The wine series will conclude in June with a colloquium on the different processes involved in the making and cultivation of wine. I think that one will be offered free of charge. You can check for details on the Amics blog should you want to do so. Salut.

The photo was taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: May 5th, 2012. The time was 11:19:59.

The Salt of the Earth

The Goose and the Golden Egg

Last Sunday, April 29th, between 5,000 and 10,000 protesters congregated on the beach of Es Trenc in opposition to a change in the planning law that now would allow the construction of a new hotel complex with 1,200 beds right on the boundaries of the protected Nature Reserve of Es Trenc-Salobrar de Campos. The change had come into law only two weeks earlier, on April 12th, when before that date no such construction would have been allowed anywhere near Mallorca’s coastline. The change of heart was legally made possible by the conservative PP party now having a majority mandate in the Consell de Mallorca, in the Balearic government as well as in the central government in Madrid.

We are reminded a bit of Aesop’s fable of the Goose that laid the golden eggs where we got wise to the fact that greed, foolishness and avarice may well kill off the source of one’s good fortune.

The battle for Es Trenc began in 1978 when a similar citizen protest had sparked off a motion which ultimately, in 1984, lead to the current protection of this virgin dune landscape as an Àrea Natural d’Especial Interès.

In 1977, similar citizens’ action was needed to help declare the island of Sa Dragonera a protected Nature Reserve. There, some investors had proposed to build a massive hotel, a casino and a yacht club. The protesters took the battle to court and succeeded in having the developers’ plans declared illegal. Dragonera island was subsequently bought by the Consell de Mallorca in 1988, and later, in 1994, declared Parque Natural de Dragonera.

Perhaps the matter of Es Trenc will also have to go to court. Whether justice is actually blind in Spain will have to be seen to be believed. Some people doubt it, not least after the recent Baltasar Garzón debacle.

Both photos were borrowed from the Internet, the top one courtesy of diariodemallorca.es, GOB and the photographer, B. Perelló. The photo (bottom) was borrowed courtesy of estelnegre.balearweb.net, showing a historic protest gathering in Palma’s Plaça d’Espanya in 1979.

Muchas gracias, and

moltes gràcies.

The Goose and the Golden Egg