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Cape Verde: Researchers find coral reef in Santiago, call for its preservation

A diver navigating coral reef   -  
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Environmental protection

A coral field has been discovered in Moiá-Moiá beach, in the eastern part of Cape Verdean island of Santiago. The scientific name of the hard coral found is "Sidastrea radians".

It's an area of about 1.000 square meters, with a very rich biodiversity due to the strong sea currents. They constantly renew the water, bringing fish and eliminating potential pollution.

The discoverer is Wlodzimierz Szymaniak, a Pole who has lived in Cape Verde for many years. He's a professor at the Jean Piaget University of Cape Verde and an avid diver.

For this project, he worked in partnership with the Cape-Verdean Ecotourism Association (ECOCV)*, which considers the discovery one of the "most remarkable" this year.

The researcher found Moiá-Moiá bay through old books. They talked about the bay because it was once very dangerous for ships. There's actually still a ship hull in Moiá-Moiá. The Pentalina B ship ran aground in the bay in June 2014 and its hull is still in place.

"Nowadays this area is almost completely forgotten and degraded by illegal sand mining", stated Szymaniak.

Edita Magileviciut, vice-president of ECOCV and also a marine biologist, listed the next steps to be taken: "investigate more, identify the severity of the impacts, such as pollution and sand extraction in the coastal area, the impact of these algae** and make a specific mapping of these corals and other associated species".

The biologist warned about the sensitivity of this habitat and stressed: "we have to educate the peoples, raise awareness, increase conservation activities. Otherwise we will lose [the coral] without discovering."

"All the species in the sea, as on land, are connected. And even the human beings. If we lose coral, we lose breeding grounds for commercially important fish, endemic fish, and all that. So, by protecting a coral species, we protect the ecosystem", she said.