In Conversation | Manu San Félix
by KITTY ALDEN
This year, we are supporting the Ibiza Preservation Foundation (IPF) on a project that is dedicated to the protection of the Posidonia oceanica seagrass in the waters of the Balearic.
Marine biologist and National Geographic photographer, Manu San Félix, who lives in Ibiza, is dedicated to protecting this species. He is working with the IPF on this incredible project that we are honoured to support and be a part of.
Out in Ibiza, we sat down with Manu and learnt more about his passion for Posidonia.
Manu, please tell the world a little bit about the Posidonia seagrass
“The Posidonia is a marine plant, a real living plant with flowers and roots that live beneath the surface of the water in the Mediterranean.”
MANU (Center) chats with LB Founder, Oliver Tomalin (Right) and Face of LB 2019, Toby Huntington-Whiteley (Left)
What makes the Posidonia so special?
“It is very important when it comes to the health of the land here. It is also a carbon sink which is important when fighting climate change. Each square metre of Posidonia releases around 20 metres of oxygen a day, giving oxygen to the entire population of Ibiza, which is just amazing.”
Why should the world take notice of this species?
“Well, we need to preserve the beauty of these islands and recover what we have lost. 50 years ago, this island was a paradise. If we start to change now, in 10 years, we can have back the rich Mediterranean that once existed.”
Why is the posidonia so important to you?
“When I arrived in Ibiza, 30 years ago, no one was talking about posidonia, no one was talking about what was beneath the surface of the water. Me, I fell in love with the beauty of the island and I realised the importance of the posidonia – and I felt a duty to act.”
What are the main threats facing posidonia?
“The loss of water quality, sewage is flowing into the waters and increasing as populations grow. We can change this if we modernise our facilities. Another threat is climate change, which is more challenging to fight. When days in Ibiza get to 28 degrees, the Posidonia dies – and over the past 2 summers, the temperature has been over 29 degrees for two months. Which is scary.”
Is it correct that boat anchors are responsible for destroying Posidonia?
“Yes, we can destroy in our planet what nature needs centuries to build up. The anchors are destroying vast meadows because people simply don’t know what is beneath the waves.”
Please tell us a little more about this app you have created to help prevent this
“It helps show where boaters can anchor without damaging the seagrass. I realised that everyone lives with a smart phone in hand, so that is where the solution must be. The app will help raise awareness about the posidonia meadows and how we can help protect it.”
What are the next steps?
“For me, it is awareness. I think it is the way to get people to change. We need to give people the knowledge. This is the philosophy of the app.
Now is the moment. Now is the moment we have to realise and have to appreciate with our hearts the importance of nature. We breath thanks to our oceans, and even those living in London, Barcelona or Madrid – still 50% of their oxygen comes from the sea.
Every other breath you take in Ibiza, is from the Posidonia. When children are born here, they take their first breath, and that, that’s Posidonia.”