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Colombia Will Have a New Marine Protected Area

On May 1, Coralina, the Maritime Environmental Authority of the Archipelago of San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina, Announced that the Ecosystems located in the Area of Bajo Nuevo and Serranilla will Join the list of More than 30 Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) declared in Colombia.

SeaFlower Biosphere

Photo: Seaflower Foundation

LatinAmerican Post | Daniel Alejandro Vergara García

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Leer en español: Colombia tendrá una nueva área marina protegida

Thanks to the information collected after the investigation of various professionals linked to the Pristine Seas project of National Geographic and the Coralina Corporation, one of the most remote areas of the Seaflower biosphere, such as Bajo Nuevo and Serranilla, will be recognized as an MPA by to be a pristine ecosystem that houses various species of marine fauna and flora in danger of extinction and of great importance for the conservation of life in the Caribbean.

What is the Seaflower Biosphere?

According to the Seaflower Foundation, this ecosystem is a biosphere reserve that covers the entire archipelago of San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina in the Colombian Caribbean. The intergovernmental scientific program "Man and Biosphere" of UNESCO, which since 1972 has been responsible for improving humanity's relationship with its environment through research, dissemination and international cooperation, declared it a reserve in 2000.

Diversity of coral reefs can be found there, according to figures from the same foundation: "These occupy approximately 5% of the Caribbean Sea and 76% of the reefs of Colombia, and their high biodiversity can be evidenced in the more than 2,300 marine species that houses”.

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The Pristine Seas Project

In 2008, Dr. Enric Sala created the project with the aim of investigating and protecting pristine areas of the sea, that is, ecosystems that remain unaltered and in which there is little or no human intervention. After more than a decade of continuous work, this purpose of preserving marine life and biodiversity has managed to contribute to the protection of around 4.5 million square kilometers of ocean territory around the world.

This year, for 50 days, the group of National Geographic researchers, supported by Colombian biologists and scientists, submerged themselves in the waters of the Pacific and the Caribbean to continue their mission. One of the last stops was precisely in Seaflower, there they investigated the area corresponding to Bajo Nuevo and Serranilla (peripheries of the ecosystem) and made important discoveries that contribute to investigations that have been carried out since 2009 in the region.

In an official statement, Nacor Bolaños, director of Coralina Protected Areas, stated that: "While we continue the analysis and review the data, we can mention that we have at least 10 new records of deep-sea species, including sharks, fish and corals”. Additionally, in an article in the newspaper El Espectador, the Pristine Seas team confirmed that "Seaflower is the site with the greatest abundance of reef sharks in the Caribbean."

The project will seek to make visible, through a documentary, not only the importance of these maritime areas, but also to raise awareness about the constant dangers to which these ecosystems are exposed due to overfishing, pollution and some diseases that native species may present.

Seaflower and the SDGs

In addition to its environmental and ecological importance, the fact of declaring the area of Bajo Nuevo and Serranilla as a marine protected area helps Colombia to anticipate the international commitments acquired within the framework of Sustainable Development Goal 14: "Life Underwater". The Andean country agreed to have more than 10% of the maritime territory as MPA by 2030 and although this objective has already been met since 2019, what has happened in the Caribbean reinforces what was agreed with the international community.