The Torredembarra sea will house an 18-meter mountain before the summer

Torredembarra will have, before the summer begins, a huge underwater mountain 18 meters high. We are talking about the construction of the Antina mega biotope whose project was designed by the oceanographer and director of the Port of Torredembarra, Oriol Milà, and his partner, Miquel Rota, owner of the M.Roca Diving diving center, specialist in marine aquariums and builder of artificial reefs, They began to take shape fifteen years ago. Now, at last, the Generalitat has granted the company Biotopo Antina SL, the concession to occupy the 22,400 m2 of maritime-terrestrial public domain necessary to build this mass. This concession will be valid for 40 years and will be renewable every ten.

The construction of a structure of such magnitude and with these characteristics is, according to its creators, something completely new at a European level. We are talking about a conical-shaped seamount of 40,000 tons of breakwater made of 100% calcium carbonate (CaCo3) of coral origin and whose base will be located 32 meters under the sea. The total height of the structure is 18 meters, the equivalent of a four-story building plus a ground floor. It will be located 1.5 kilometers from the coast, in a straight line from the Pont de Clarà, and its base will be centered on an area 100 meters in diameter, "enough to eliminate any risk to fishing and navigation," he explains. Broken. To do this, "within this perimeter, six buoys will be installed, which will serve to anchor the boats and will also promote recreational diving."

A POUM submarine

The idea of ​​Oriol Milà and Miquel Rota began to take shape between 2007 and 2009. From this was born the Biotopo Antina project, for the creation and development of an underwater park from an artificial underwater reef on the Torredembarra coast, budgeted at 850,000 euros and whose owner is Biotopo Antina SL and its main investor, the Port of Torredembarra.

"In our initial idea we wanted to reactivate the underwater world in our area, because it is not a benchmark in this field," explains Milà. The oceanographer recalls how, in those early days, "it occurred to us that, based on the cultivation of live rock and the knowledge that Miquel Rota already had in this regard, a large-scale mega-mountain could be built that would bring together as many of biodiversity and that, in addition, generated interest in the underwater world”.

Milà and Rota analyzed the entire coastline from El Roc de Sant Gaietà to Torredembarra

This was the contribution of the artificial reef builder. The pairing with Oriol Milà was completed when he contributed a more environmental vision of the structure, beyond being limited to being solely a recreational and tourist object: «It had to have a powerful environmental element that would help, in the future, to establish planning and management of the underwater environment”. In other words, transferring the idea of ​​creating a POUM at the bottom of the sea.

In fact, one of the functions that this biotope will perform once it is active is to literally become a lung within the underwater environment, which in turn must face all the adversities of the sea. These, on many occasions "at first glance are not evident by civil society", laments Milà, for which reason "when it comes to regularizing them, administrations often do not care". With the construction of the Antina biotope "we can try to arouse the curiosity of governments and contribute a grain of sand to the possibility of starting to think about planning the underwater environment."

Oasis in the middle of a desert

To prepare this project of more than a thousand pages loaded with studies and research, Milà and Rota made a detailed analysis of the entire coastline from El Roc de Sant Gaietà to Tamarit and thus be able to demonstrate how this structure will positively affect the entire area, and they arrived to the conclusion that it would be "an oasis of life in the middle of an immense desert".

To understand this, Miquel Rota details the characteristics of our coastline: «The entire Costa Daurada is a sandy area in which there are small stone bars that are nothing more than fossilized beaches from millions of years ago and that have been formed by different regressions. of the Mediterranean Sea throughout history, which has then been covered again by the sea itself. But it turns out that in the section between the Torredembarra lighthouse and Tarragona there is not one. It is like a marine desert that, despite everything, "fulfills its own environmental functions." Now, building a structure like the one explained here will make it take the function of an oasis right in the center of all this desert.

The characteristics and size of this structure is unprecedented at a European level

Thus, as Oriol Milà specifies, "the mega biotope will try to bring together as much biodiversity as possible which, over time, will make these natural structures that already existed -the fossilized bars or beaches- begin to receive much more".

It is not an artificial reef

Now let's distinguish concepts: talking about a biotope is not the same as talking about artificial reefs as such. "An artificial reef is not a biotope in itself because it can host life or it may not, because perhaps the material with which it is made is not good for attracting it", clarifies Oriol Milà.

In the case of the Antina biotope, it will be made 100% with calcium carbonate. "In the Miquel submarine concession we have small-scale prototypes made with this material that are working very well," explains the oceanographer. But the purpose of these small biotopes is completely different from that pursued by the Antina mass. In these cases, it seeks to “better dignify the planting of buoys on the coast that separate navigation from bathers. Instead of implanting a concrete block, these structures are kinder to the marine environment and help to have some proliferation of life, but they have nothing to do with the large structures like the one we are going to build”.

Made from 100% calcium carbonate

The Antina biotope will be built in its entirety, by calcium carbonate (CaCo3) of coral origin. The secretion of carbonate by corals is a process of great importance, since it originates the construction of coral reefs, marine ecosystems of great importance due to the richness and abundance of species they house, therefore it is the best material possible to attract marine life.

That the Antina biotope can be completely formed by this material is thanks to the calcareous chalk that exists in the stretch of coast that covers the entire Baix Penedès. 25 million years ago these chalks were coral reefs and have a calcium carbonate purity of 98 or 99%.

This mass will have a diameter of 100 meters and a height equivalent to a 4-story building plus a ground floor.

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