By Anne Kay

THE book ”Jaws” written by Peter Benchley and made famous by the film of the same name and its subsequent sequels had to do with local authorities not wanting to spoil the holiday income from their beach by announcing the presence of a shark.

Here on Majorca some authorities will probably pander to the tourist interests of their major contributors, that is the hotel and restaurant owners of the area. A sandy beach is a big tourist attraction, one that has caused people to flock to Majorca for decades, together with the sunshine to keep the beach pleasant. Although here there is no risk of sharks, the authorities do not like to have other reasons to keep the tourists away. Bathers do not usually like to have to wade through mounds of seaweed but during the winter storms this accumulates on the Majorcan beaches. Rough weather helps to throw up the piles of ‘posidonia' which most local people just call dead algae.

Strangely enough those in the know say that there have not been enough storms to clear the sea bed of all the loose seaweed and so at the slightest rough seas, more algae builds up on beaches, such as Es Trenc and La Rapita that I visited last week.

Now local hoteliers of that municipality, namely Campos, are complaining about the amount of seaweed still on the beach although the mayor, Sr Prohens, assures them that the cleaning process goes on daily. This is normally the responsibility of those who win the concession to put the beach beds and sunshades out, but when there is an extra problem, the town council helps too.

But now a new aspect has appeared and that is the opinion of the ecologists. The GOB has raised its (ugly?) head again to complain that seaweed should be preserved to prevent a loss of sand from the beaches and dunes. This opinion is backed by Balearic University professors who also say that the shovels and tractors that clear away the algae also remove dwindling sand supplies. This is also increased by the many cars that visit the area bringing thousands of visitors to the beaches.

This is another example of modern steps forward that are producing steps back, they say, and suggest that the beach cleaning should be carried out by manual labour.

If the beaches were left covered in seaweed all round the Majorcan coast, there would soon be a lot of unhappy tourists, no blue flags would be given, and the main source of income to the island would probably descend drastically. But then, we know that is what the GOB would like. I just wonder what they expect the island to earn as a stable income.

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