VII Underwater Cleanup 2016: Water and Employment

On Saturday, March 19, Fundación La Tortuga held its seventh edition of the Underwater Cleanup on the beach of Valle Seco accompanied by an enthusiastic group of volunteers.

On Saturday, March 19, Fundación La Tortuga held its seventh edition of the Underwater Cleanup on the beach of Valle Seco accompanied by an enthusiastic group of volunteers.

The volunteers, among them residents of Valle Seco, Guanta Civil Protection, Petro Sucre's Ecological Brigade and Guanta's Tourism Department, took on the task of removing all the debris they could find, both underwater and in the sandy areas, where glass bottles were the most present on this occasion. The environmental organization is grateful to its sponsors Maru Marine Tours, CocaCola Femsa de Venezuela and Bahía Divers for the support given to bring the task to a successful conclusion, as well as to Ferreterías EPA for providing the bags for the removal of the debris.

The good action of the day was closed in an excellent way with the intervention of the Biologist Juan Pedro Ruiz (Fundación Costa de Venezuela), who with wide experience in the study of the exotic soft coral present, exposed the characteristics and problematic that represents this species native of the Indo-Pacific.

Details on the study of this introduced exotic species.

An invasive soft coral (Xeniidae) from Indonesia was found for the first time in 2007 off the coast of the town of Valle Seco (northeastern Venezuela, 10 14.6 N; 64 31.70 W). At that time a solitary colony was observed growing on dead coral and later on degraded substrate, sand and debris. Since then, the coral has increased in abundance, dispersing several kilometers outside of Conoma Bay and Mono Island (areas where it was originally introduced), occupying an average of 20% of the substrate. This soft coral is found in well-lit habitats (0.5 - 4m), on both soft and hard substrates, and even colonizes introduced debris.

The finding constitutes the first report of an invasive soft coral of the family Xeniidae and its expansion beyond the Indo-Pacific region. This species was apparently introduced illegally into Venezuela and intentionally planted for propagation and commercialization in the aquarium market. So far no attempts have been made to eliminate the invasive coral. The ecological consequences of the invasion, as well as its spatial and temporal dispersal, undoubtedly need to be carefully monitored.

The main form of dispersal appears to be through the use of chinchorro type fishing nets. The nets are used at various fishing spots and transport the soft coral polyps that become entangled in the mesh from one place to another. Because of this, dispersal has been very rapid and growth and expansion explosive. Fishermen in the area report a drastic decrease in catches and many difficulties to fish in the areas invaded by this exotic species.

This event takes place within the framework of the celebration of World Water Day (March 22), an important date to reflect on the importance and care of this vital element. This year's United Nations campaign is: World Water Day 2016: "Water and jobs".

Water means jobs

Water is an essential element of life. But it is more than essential for quenching thirst or protecting health; water is vital for creating jobs and supporting economic, social and human development.

Today, half of the world's workers (1.5 billion people) work in water-related sectors. Moreover, almost all jobs, regardless of the sector, depend directly on water. Yet, despite the inextricable link between work and water, millions of people whose lives depend on the liquid element are often not recognized or protected by basic labor rights.

March 22 is a day to highlight the essential role of water and to advocate for improvements for the world's water-stressed population. It is a day to discuss how we should manage water resources in the future. In 1993, the United Nations General Assembly designated it as World Water Day. Twenty-three years have passed and it continues to be celebrated around the world.

La Tortuga Foundation thanks all participants and sponsors for their collaboration and extends an invitation to all people sensitive to environmental issues, to join actions such as the one described above in order to alleviate the impacting consequences on the planet as a result of human actions, since we are part of nature, not its owners.