Published On: Thu, Feb 22nd, 2018

Water lettuce invades Chetumal’s lagoon

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CHETUMAL, Q. Roo.- The lagoon in the northwest of Chetumal agonizes before the presence of aquatic lettuces that invade the ecosystem and prevent the entry of light and oxygen, vital for the flora and fauna.

Water lettuce is a free-floating plant with many spongy, dusty green simple leaves. The leaves are covered in very fine hairs and arranged in a spiral pattern from the center of the plant. The leaves are 1 to 6 inches wide and have large veins running their length.

Water lettuce is a very aggressive invader and can form thick floating mats. If these mats cover the entire surface of a pond or lagoon, they can cause oxygen depletions and fish kills.

Mirna Valdéz Hernández, researcher at El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (Ecosur) Chetumal, reported that  the “mat” that has formed prevents photosynthesis and oxygenation of other underwater plants, condemning wildlife to death.

She indicated that the layer that these plants have formed a thick layer that prevents the circulation of currents and the natural replacement of water, which will generate greater contamination by the discharges of any type of waste, such as batteries and electronics, which when decomposed, generate leachates.

“It is a chain reaction that produce a lethal effect, the lack of circulation and the reduction of solar energy, result in lack of oxygen, which is now causing death and decomposition of the lagoon’s flora and fauna,” Valdéz Hernández said.

On the other hand, Gerald Islebe, another Ecosur researcher, stated that water lettuce is a heavy metal accumulator plant, that accumulates mercury and lead, which results in a high degree of contamination and excess of nutrients that favor the rapid growth and propagation of this noxious species.

Both researchers recommended removing the green “mat” as soon as possible, otherwise, due to the accelerated growth of the plant in six months, the species will have covered the entire lagoon system.

Source: SIPSE

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