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ENVIRONMENT

Beaches closed in Mallorca amid shark fears

A shark that caused terror on beaches around Mallorca over the weekend has been caught and killed.

Beaches closed in Mallorca amid shark fears
Photo: SURZet/Depositphotos

The 1.5 metre long blue shark had first been spotted in the shallows of beaches around Magaluf on Saturday sparking a hunt by emergency services.

WATCH: Video of the shark

Civil Guard patrols and Civil Protection workers monitored the area occasionally ordering beaches to be closed when the shark, known as a tintorera in Spanish, was spotted.

It was finally caught on Sunday afternoon and discovered to have a serious head wound caused by a harpoon spear so was euthanized by experts from the Palma Aquarium.

The fish had caused panic in the water after swimming dangerously close to bathers, including young children on inflatibles, and led to authorities ordering everyone out of the water.

Holidaymakers posted pictures of the shark swimming in shallow waters while swimmers raced to the shore.

The story made the front pages of British tabloids.

Blue sharks are one of the most common sharks in the Mediterranean but rarely appear close to shore and pose little danger to humans.

However, marine experts believe this shark became disorientated after being injured.

Last summer in Elche, on Spain's eastern coast, a man was bitten on the hand by a blue shark.

 

ENVIRONMENT

Police operation targets illegal water tapping in Spain

More than 130 people were arrested or placed under investigation for illegal water tapping last year, Spain’s Guardia Civil police said on Wednesday following a huge operation.

Police said most of their operations took place “in fragile and vulnerable areas such as the Doñana natural park”
Police said most of their operations took place “in fragile and vulnerable areas such as the Doñana natural park” in Andalusia. Photo: CRISTINA QUICLER / AFP

During the year-long operation, “133 people were arrested or investigated for extracting water through more than 1,533 illegal infrastructure devices”, the police’s environmental unit said in a statement.

A similar operation in 2019 had targeted 107 people.

Spain is one of the European countries most at risk from the impact of drought caused by global warming, scientists say.

Water usage issues are often at the heart of heated political debates in Spain where intensive agriculture plays an important role in the economy.

Police said most of their operations took place “in fragile and vulnerable areas such as the Doñana natural park” in the southern Andalusia region, one of Europe’s largest wetlands and a Unesco World Heritage bird sanctuary.

They were also operating in “in the basins of Spain’s main rivers”.

In Doñana, police targeted 14 people and 12 companies for the illegal tapping of water for irrigation, a police spokesman said.

Ecologists regularly raise the alarm about the drying up of marshes and lagoons in the area, pointing the finger at nearby plantations, notably growing strawberries, which are irrigated by illegally-dug wells.

“The overexploitation of certain aquifers for many reasons, mainly economic, constitutes a serious threat to our environment,” the Guardia Civil said.

The European Court of Justice rapped Spain over the knuckles in June for its inaction in the face of illegal water extraction in Donana which covers more than 100,000 hectares (250,000 acres) and is home to more than 4,000 species, including the critically endangered Iberian lynx.

According to the government’s last official estimate, which dates back to 2006, there were more than half a million illegal wells in use.

But in a 2018 study, Greenpeace estimated there were twice as many, calculating that the quantity of stolen water was equivalent to that used by 118 million people — two-and-a-half times the population of Spain.

Spanish NGO SEO/Birdlife also on Wednesday raised the alarm about the “worrying” state of Spain’s wetlands.

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