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- Urchin BeAware
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Amarilla Divers is a PADI 5 Star Instructor Development Dive Resort in Golf del Sur, Tenerife. We are lucky enough to be situated a little over 50m from the beach front, our local dive site, known to us as Amarilla Reef (our House Reef). After many years diving the site, it was always known that there was the potential for it to be a beautiful and interesting location to dive; however, it became obvious that there was an abundant lack of variety in the benthic community and marine life on the reef.
It was apparent that the uncountable amount of the invasive and destructive Long-Spined Black Urchin (Diadema antillarum) of the Canary Islands was the culprit for the reduction in life and had a huge impact on the natural state of the reef. The urchins habitually bleach white the surface of all the rocks and deplete the macroalgae beds, therefore, diminishing and reducing ecological growth.
After thorough research, we decided to start a Project to eradicate the destructive Long-spined Black Urchin. We started the Project back in May 2012, by coordinating off two 10x10 metre zones. One zone acted as an untouched control and the other was the test area where all the urchins were removed. We then logged, every week, the variety, numbers and differences of the benthic community seen in the both the zones. Once it became clear that a positive impact was produced from the removal of the urchin species from this zone, we started to fully remove urchins from the whole reef (a 300 x 55 metre zone!). Since we started we have put in 100+ hours of work and more than 40+ dives of removing urchins.
The results and changes that we have seen in the reef is astonishing with some of Tenerife's rarest fish and crabs being spotted and multiple resident octopuses and moray eels moving in. The plant life growth that has occurred is remarkable with the reef rocks now covered in bushes and moss.The changes seen in the bio diversity is incredible!
It is an interesting example of how a species in its natural environment plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem but once out of its home environment becomes a pest!