Every three months they take the same route. “We border the coastline of Jagua Bay, tells MSc. Ángel Moreira González, scientist of the Center for Environmental Studies in Cienfuegos, and we collect algae; it is a routine procedure we do since these plants as filtering organisms, are excellent indicators of the environment status. In these incursions we made the findings.”
Local press reflected it in its front page: “Six new marine microalgae for Cuba“. We are dealing with six species, which although known in other parts of the world, had never been identified in our coasts: Geildiella sactarum, Geliodiopsis variabilis, Gracilaria flabelliformis, Gracilaria pauciramosa, Cladophora damática, and Cladophora serícea.
The report published as “scientific note” in the Cuban Marine Research Magazine, also indicates the taxonomic, bio- geographical characteristics, particularizing the status of the environment in every discovery.
“For example- assures the scientist- the Gelidiella sactarum appeared in very clear waters of the bay, as well as the Gracilaria flabeliformis, reported worldwide in clear environments and of great water circulation in the West Indies (Guadalupe), North America (Florida, Mexico) and in Brazil, Venezuela and Chile“.
Why floral studies?
The bay of Cienfuegos is a semi- closed system with estuary features, located by the central- southern part of the island which receives the impact of a strong process of industrialization from the 80´s in the last century. That is why two decades ago the Center for Environmental Studies in Cienfuegos focused on constant monitoring, based on the contents of water, sediment, bentonyc organisms and algae.
Prospection labors on these organisms were preceded by a floral study on microalgae and macroalgae, about five years ago, which provided knowledge on what species inhabited the bay; around 60 were registered then as new reports for this ecosystem and for Cuba.
For the Cuban platform 417 marine macroalgae have been registered, and the flora of the Cienfuegos Bay represents about 17% of the flora in our archipelago.
“Some algae like Geliodopsis variabilis, found in areas directly impacted by domestic sewage, alert us on pollution levels; others, like Gracilaria bear economic value since from them it can be extracted agar, product of wide use in pharmaceuticals and perfumery”, added Ángel Moreira.
“Described for the area of Venezuela, and more recently in Brazil, assures the investigator, the Gracilaria pauciramosa registers for the first time in the West Indies, which reaffirms the biogeographical affinity between the southern portion of the Caribbean and the South American giant.”
The discovery was confirmed by the laboratories of the Department for Environmental Management of the Center for Environmental Studies in Cienfuegos (Spanish acronym CEA) and validated by the Sao Paulo Botanical Institute, Brazil, where this young scientist was on a scholarship in marine algae taxonomy.
Thus, the discovery was countersigned by Mutue Fuji, specialist from this institution and by Cuban professors Ana María Suárez, from the Center for Marine Research at University of Havana and Rubén Cabrera, from the Office of Archeology of the City´s Historian in Cienfuegos.