'Lanzarote has forests and they are under the sea' is the slogan of the dissemination action through which more than 130 students from four high schools in Lanzarote are discovering the black coral forests, of unknown extension and centenary age that are hidden in the seabeds near Puerto del Carmen, in the south of the island. These forests are still under analysis and study by the B-CHARMED project, led by the Atlantic Biodiversity and Sustainability Association (ABAS) and supported by LIFE Programme of the European Union (DG ENV), the French Office for Biodiversity (OFB) and the French Development Agency (AFD), through the LIFE4BEST programme.
The project has the collaboration of the University Institute for Research in Sustainable Aquaculture and Marine Ecosystems (IU-ECOAQUA) of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (ULPGC).
Francisco Otero-Ferrer, PhD in Marine Sciences and principal investigator of B-CHARMED, associated to ABAS and also to IU-ECOAQUA (Spain); and Lorenzo Bramanti, researcher at the CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique) belonging to LECOB (France), are responsible for giving these 50-minute talks, which have been extended in several sessions during April and May.
The talks have already been attended online by 18 high school students from IES Las Maretas, 30 students from IES Playa Honda, as well as 39 students from IES Yaiza. Today, two new talks will be given at the IES Tinajo to 46 high-school students.
The underwater black coral forests, located in Puerto del Carmen coasts, have a series of unique characteristics in terms of accessibility, extension and biological richness that make them an ideal natural laboratory for study. This is why the European project B-CHARMED, acronym of "The Black Coral forests as unexplored biodiversity Hotspots in the MAcaronesian Region: ecosysteM functions and sErvices analyseD", has chosen this locality as a model area to develop tools to map them and deepen the knowledge of their associated biodiversity.
In this context, the main objective of these talks is to bring students closer to research applied to the marine environment, while the researchers emphasize the enormous natural value of the island, especially the marine environment and its conservation. The Cabildo de Lanzarote through the Biosphere Reserve has also supported this initiative.
During the course, the students were able to learn more about the particularities of marine forests and, more specifically, about black corals and their habitat, as well as the methods used to their study, the organisms living inside, their importance in the marine ecosystem and their main threats.
The teachers in charge of the students have express their satisfaction with the experience, which they have all agreed was "very interesting", highlighting its practical interest, as an example of important teaching content for each course, such as the study of invertebrates or coral reef ecosystems, through "a local ecosystem of great value and which the vast majority did not know about".
The interest generated by the lecture among students and teachers has led that the schools have already requested that once B-CHARMED has completed the results phase, they send them "a summary of the results and the conclusions obtained in order to discuss them in class and give continuity to the project outcomes".