An artificial reef to save orange coral

The orange coral is a species endemic to the Mediterranean Sea. Currently, this species faces serious threats due to pollution, rising sea temperatures and the proliferation of invasive exotic species, such as the Asian brown alga Rugulopteryx okamurae, which has expanded expansively in the Spanish Mediterranean since 2016.

However, all is not lost. It is possible to implement actions that contribute to the maintenance and connectivity of existing populations. In this sense, the MedCoral Program of Man and Territory (HyT) has been developing actions for the knowledge, conservation and protection of corals for 15 years, and they have developed innovative techniques that contribute to the survival of this species and are being applied successfully. in the creation of these artificial reefs.

Through recovery techniques, coral colonies that have become detached from the natural environment are rescued, which would not survive if they were not intervened. Additionally, during the reproduction period, the HyT team of biologists collects a portion of the released larvae and implants them in these artificial reefs. It should be noted that sexual reproduction of orange coral occurs only once a year and under very specific conditions: full moon and water temperatures between 18 and 20 degrees. When these conditions are met, sexual reproduction occurs and, subsequently, the fertilized females expel thousands of larvae that, however, have a low probability of survival. In 2024, reproduction will take place on June 24, coinciding with the next full moon, at which time the larvae will be collected and implanted in the new artificial reef located in Nerja.

In this context, imagin, the digital services and lifestyle platform promoted by CaixaBank, and the Man and Territory Association (HyT), through its MedCoral program, have once again strengthened their alliance to contribute to the recovery of the orange coral in the Mediterranean. The first reef was installed a year ago in Almuñecar where the yellow coral (Astroides calycuaris) grows and evolves. Now, within this initiative, a second reef will be created on the coast of Nerja, with the installation of 60,000 new corals distributed in four coral gardens with a total area of ​​52 square meters and which will also become a diving spot. area officer.

The presentation event, which took place on May 29 at the Nerja Botanical Garden, included the intervention of Gerardo Cuartero, commercial director of CaixaBank in Málaga, Córdoba and Almería; Sergio Diaz, head of Engagement & Teens at imagin; Javier Rodríguez, delegate of Environment and Public Health of the Nerja City Council; María Penélope Gómez, Councilor for Environmental Sustainability of the Malaga City Council; and José Antonio Víquez, Environment and Water delegate of the Junta de Andalucía in Málaga.

Seas and oceans cover 70% of the Earth's surface, and are home to millions of species and the largest carbon sinks that exist: they alone can absorb around half of CO2 emissions. However, they are also one of the environments most affected by plastic pollution and the effects of global warming. To help care for the health of the oceans, the regeneration of marine ecosystems and the protection of their biodiversity are essential. In this sense, the creation of the Almuñécar reef in May 2023 has managed to triple the richness of species that live in its vicinity throughout this year and attract 90 new different species of marine organisms. From fish such as grouper, triggerfish, seabream, mullet or amberjack, among others, to crustaceans (crab and hermit), mammals (bottlenose dolphin) and mollusks (common octopus). More than half of these species are of fishing interest, which also contributes to the sustainable development of the area.

Beyond the seas

This project, like many others, is part of the initiatives that imagin, through imaginPlanet, develops to generate a positive impact on the planet and society as a whole. In the last four years, since the launch of imaginPlanet, imagin has managed to remove more than 100 tons of plastic from the sea; has offset more than 1,000 tons of CO2; has planted more than 440,000 trees and has promoted volunteer activities with more than 11,000 people. These figures are an example of how imagin, thanks to its strategy based on generating a positive impact from the digital environment and the support of the community of imaginers, has managed to consolidate its position as a digital reference in the field of sustainability and social impact. . In July 2020, imagin became the first mobile-only financial services platform to obtain B Corp certification, a recognition that places the neobank among the best companies in the world that use their potential for positive impact.