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Tuesday 12 December of 2017
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Two species of tropical corals begin to invade the Canary Islands.

OculinaHis arrival is due to the oil rigs that dock and anchor in the ports of Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Las Palmas.

Researchers believe that the first of the two corals to arrive was, probably, the 'Tubatraea coccinea’ because it has managed to expand outside the docks. En el caso the 'Oculina Patagonica', two colonies have been located in the Puerto de La Luz: one in the very walls of the spring and one in the rocks on the beach of Las Alcaravaneras.

Oil rigs that since 2011 part of the landscape of the ports of Las Palmas and Santa Cruz de Tenerife They have introduced two tropical coral islands, potentially invasive, that they are beginning to form colonies off the docks.

Magazine Museum of Natural Sciences of Tenerife published this month work of researchers University of La Laguna (ULL), the Environmental Research Center Atlantic, the Sea Museum of Ceuta and the Department of the Environment of the Canary Government documents, for the first time in the Islands, the presence of corals and Oculina patagonica Tubastraea coccinea.

The study's authors, whose first author is Alberto Brito, Unit Marine Science ULL, remember that in recent years they have been seen in major ports of the Canary Islands tropical fish themselves Gulf of Guinea, Indian or South America that, in many cases, They had never been seen before in the Islands.

Just a year ago, a team of University of Las Palmas He presented in the journal Journal of marine systems a study showing that those fish had arrived at Puerto de La Luz with oil rigs, huge structures that move very slowly through the ocean along thousands of miles, behaving like true artificial reefs.

The team led by the Unit of Marine Science shows how ULL these same platforms have been introduced in the two Canary capitals originating Pacific coral and adapted to tropical waters he never had as seen north (the Tubastraea) and they have also allowed, in the case of Puerto de La Luz, proliferates the Oculina, a South American species that had never been detected in the eastern Atlantic, although in the Mediterranean, which already has set off several alarms.

Researchers believe that the first of the two to arrive was probably the Tubatraea coccinea, because it has managed to expand outside the ship docks major platforms and oil industry It has formed colonies not only in the port of Las Alcaravaneras beach, but also in two other parts of the coast of Gran Canaria located 11 and 30 kilometers south: in Jinámar (counted) and the funds El Cabron (Agüimes).

In the case of the Patagonian Oculina, two colonies have been located in the Puerto de La Luz: one in the very walls of the spring and one in the rocks on the beach of Las Alcaravaneras.

Oil rigs have transported him to the Canary Islands “a remarkable amount of tropical fauna”, which in some cases it has managed to proliferate in the Islands thanks to long stays of those ships in ports (Many of them carry many months berthed in repair or SIBAs).

However, also they stress that climate change has brought down the natural barriers that until recently prevented a tropical species arrival in the Canary Islands with maritime traffic is adapted to its waters. To this has contributed “definitely”, point, the fact that the temperature of the coastal waters of the Canary Islands right now oscillate between 17 and the 25 degrees, with an average of 21 ° C.

In the case of the first of the two species of coral detected, The authors express their fear of their potential for “to break into” short and medium term the coast of the Canary Islands, “because of its proven ability to expand rapidly and coated with high densities funds”, as already it is beginning to be seen in Gran Canaria.

As for the Oculina, recognize that the fact that so far has not left the port of La Luz “It does not allow hypothesizing about a risk of invasion”, but also remember that “in the Mediterranean it is expanding rapidly” So what “Canary sea conditions are optimal for development”.

For this reason, warn that “the presence of these corals will modify the structure of benthic communities” of marine ecosystems Canary and call monitoring environmental administrations to expand and evaluate its impact.