Popcorn beach

Pop Corn Beaches are beaches where the sand has been replaced by a kind of carbonaceous shells that have a morphology and color reminiscent of popcorn. These are calcium carbonate skeletons synthesized by a species of red algae that inhabit the Canary coasts at shallow depths, called rhodoliths.

Rhodoliths occur extensively around the shores of Fuerteventura Island in the Canary Archipelago, with Lithothamnion cf. corallioides being the most prominent species.

It is by the action of the waves, that over the decades, a large number of rhodoliths end up being washed ashore, whose remains contribute to the formation of the sediments that make up the modern beaches, so these unusual beaches have been formed very slowly.

Although rhodoliths are resistant to a variety of environmental disturbances, they can be severely affected by storms, harvesting, ocean acidification and global warming, and the beds are known to be between 20 and 100 meters deep in most parts of the Canary Islands.

Along the beaches there are panels explaining what these “popcorn” are and that their extraction is forbidden, in spite of which the plundering is still very frequent. Unfortunately, every year tourists and locals remove a considerable amount of rhodoliths from the beaches, which represents a threat to these ecosystems, since, as I mentioned before, the remains of dead rhodoliths contribute greatly to the sediments that form contemporary beaches.

Majanicho, La Oliva, Fuerteventura, Islas Canarias

🌊 Read more: Rhodolith beds and their onshore transport in Fuerteventura Island: cutt.ly/C5EHks0

Photo Taken: April 13, 2023
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