24 July 2008

A Monte Carlo Summer - the Clean-up Man


Not the sharpest photograph in the world, but I wanted you to meet one of the men who clean up Larvotto Beach. It's just gone 8 in the morning and he whizzes along the jellyfish nets, checking for any damage. He also picks up any flotsam and jetsam in the sea.

Larvotto Beach has had its publicity problems lately. Analyses of the water have shown a toxic algae called 'Ostreopsis Ovata' which has been menacing Larvotto Beach in particular. In fact all the beaches in Monaco are now under high surveillance.

This algae, which has colonized parts the northern edge of the Mediterranean during the last few years, is a one-cell microscopic organism. Because it contains chlorophyll it's called an algae, but it's also a sort of plancton. Its natural habitat is on underwater rocks where it attaches itself to the rocks in the form of a brown mousse. The problem arises when this mousse detaches from the rocks and floats to the surface. In contact with the sun it gives off a toxic gas.

Two years ago, in Italy - at Genoa - 200 people were intoxicated and hospitalised with respiratory problems.

At the moment, the authorities say there is no danger in Monaco but the problem is being continually observed and tested by the zoological station in Villefranche, a laboratory at the University of Nice and the biology department attached to the Office of the Environment in Monaco.

They say, 'We are not in a situation of alert, but we are in a siuation of enforced vigilance.'

Meanwhile, as you see, people swim.

5 comments:

Kate said...

Environmental and natural pollution are tough problems to tackle. Hope your beaches remain safe!

M.Benaut said...

I checked the site of "Société Monegasque d’Assainissement" and saw the talented Thierry. He starts at 5 AM and works like a Trojan ! That's probably him in your great shot.
What a terrific job. I think that I should apply !!
Seems much of the trash blows in from Italy on the East winds. It's a shame that people trash the place. 100 kilograms a day, is what they retrieve.
Maybe a royal blue T-shirt and cap will be on my shopping list.

MmeBenaut said...

Wow, I had no idea that this type of algae was so dangerous. I hope it clears up soon. It would be sad to have to close the beaches.

pjwilltravel said...

I was concerned about jellyfish, now its toxic algae. I sure hopes the algae problem clears up by the middle of September when my daughter and I come there. Going to the beach is on the "things to do" list.

Keith said...

Sounds serious. I hope they find a way to eliminate or at least control the problem.

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