Objective Eume: to recover the shellfish beds

The Eume hydroelectric power station waterfall.
The Eume hydroelectric power station waterfall.

The boat is loaded little by little. It is attached to a small service dock in front of the building of the Fishermen's Association of Pontedeume, a unique town in the province of A Coruña that lives on the edge of the sea. The work team of the University of Santiago (USC), under the coordination of Xosé Lois Otero, is putting all the material to carry out a collection of samples in the six-meter long speedboat. At the stern, with the outboard engine on, waits Valentín Riveiro, biologist of the association and who must guide the researchers through the secrets of one of the best shellfish banks in northern Galicia. The water is calm. With not even a light breeze to stir it. It reflects the grey light of the overcast sky like a mirror.  

General image of the Eume dam. General image of the Eume dam.
General image of the Eume dam.
The upper reaches of the Eume river basin. The upper reaches of the Eume river basin.
The upper reaches of the Eume river basin.

The shellfish farmers sounded the alarm. The productivity of the estuary that forms at the mouth of the Eume River has not stopped falling. It used to be a privileged area to find fine clam, slug and japonica and cockle. But now many ordinary shellfish farmers prefer to focus on catching kilos and kilos of an invasive species of oyster that does not stop colonising the area. It doesn't pay too well, but there is so much, and its farming is not so limited that a profit can be made. 

Detail of the interior of the Eume hydroelectric power station. Detail of the interior of the Eume hydroelectric power station.
Detail of the interior of the Eume hydroelectric power station.
The old control room of the Eume hydroelectric power station. The old control room of the Eume hydroelectric power station.
The old control room of the Eume hydroelectric power station.
The current operations panel of the Eume hydroelectric power station. The current operations panel of the Eume hydroelectric power station.
The current operations panel of the Eume hydroelectric power station.

One of the calls made by the president of the association, Santiago Salgado, to try and get help to alleviate this problem was to Endesa. Upstream, after passing the Fragas do Eume, one of the best preserved Atlantic forests in Europe, is the Eume hydroelectric power station. It was built three kilometres from a 101-metre high dam on foundations and 225,000 cubic meters of concrete. It has an installed capacity of 54 MW and, thanks to the abundant rainfall recorded in this basin, a high productivity. 

Fraguas del Rio Eume Natural Park.
Fraguas del Rio Eume Natural Park.

The call reached the director of Endesa's Northwest Hydraulic Production Unit, José Antonio Galván, who, due to his position, is the head of the plant. After several conversations, Galván explained to the fishermen's association what he thought Endesa could be its role in this matter, assuming the commitment that it has always had with a territory in which it has been operating for a long time.

"We feel," he said, "solidarity with a group to which we are united by the environment and by many years of coexistence." 

The forest of the Fraguas del Rio Eume Natural Park. The forest of the Fraguas del Rio Eume Natural Park.
The forest of the Fraguas del Rio Eume Natural Park.
The river Eume as it passes through the Fraguas del Rio Eume Natural Park. The river Eume as it passes through the Fraguas del Rio Eume Natural Park.
The river Eume as it passes through the Fraguas del Rio Eume Natural Park.

And they didn't want it to be just any corporate social responsibility action. They wanted to get to the root of the problem, to have an impact on the future. Therefore, they convinced the association to turn to the USC and put together a pioneering research project in Galicia.

"We wanted to work with rigour and with scientific endorsement."

A collaboration agreement was finally signed to do an in depth analysis of the causes behind the deterioration of the shellfish banks of the Eume. The initiative seeks to address the problem from all angles: quality of water, sediments, changes in the morphology of the estuary, etc. The study includes the collection of more than 60 samples along the entire mouth of the river. These samples that will then be dissected at the Mariña Bioloxía Station in A Graña, Ferrol. 

A member of the scientific team of the Estación de Bioloxía Marita de A Graña in Ferrol of the USC, swims towards the dive site at the mouth of the Eume river. A member of the scientific team of the Estación de Bioloxía Marita de A Graña in Ferrol of the USC, swims towards the dive site at the mouth of the Eume river.
A member of the scientific team of the Estación de Bioloxía Marita de A Graña in Ferrol of the USC, swims towards the dive site at the mouth of the Eume river.

Valentín asks for the rope that moors the boat to land to be released and puts the engine in reverse. Everything is ready. As if in slow motion, the speedboat breaks free from the coastline and gently enters the intense flow that carries the fresh water to the Atlantic. A few metres away, after passing the train bridge, Valentín drops the anchor and turns off the outboard. The GPS indicates that they are right next to one of the checkpoints. Divers adjust the equipment. They put on their fins, bring the regulator to their mouths and fall back off the side. It's not very deep. The bottom is sandy, and through the density of the bubbles they release, it's possible to see how they drive down the PVC tube that will collect the sediment sample.

After repeating the operation in a dozen places, the boat returns to the dock. Guillermo Díaz, one of the people responsible for the project on behalf of the USC, puts the samples in his car to later take them about 20 kilometres away, to the Mariña Bioloxía Station in A Graña, where every day he examines the quality of these ecosystems that have such a fragile balance. There, all the information from the sample will be extracted to begin to compose a puzzle that sheds some light on the notable drop in productivity of shellfish banks. 

Members of the scientific team of the Estación de Bioloxía Marita de A Graña in Ferrol of the USC, check the immersion points for the collection of samples in the mouth of the Eume River. Members of the scientific team of the Estación de Bioloxía Marita de A Graña in Ferrol of the USC, check the immersion points for the collection of samples in the mouth of the Eume River.
Members of the scientific team of the Estación de Bioloxía Marita de A Graña in Ferrol of the USC, check the immersion points for the collection of samples in the mouth of the Eume River.
Xosé Lois Otero, head of the scientific team of the Estación de Bioloxía Marita de A Graña in Ferrol of the USC, during the extraction of sediments from the seabed of the mouth of the Eume River. Xosé Lois Otero, head of the scientific team of the Estación de Bioloxía Marita de A Graña in Ferrol of the USC, during the extraction of sediments from the seabed of the mouth of the Eume River.
Xosé Lois Otero, head of the scientific team of the Estación de Bioloxía Marita de A Graña in Ferrol of the USC, during the extraction of sediments from the seabed of the mouth of the Eume River.
Maria es parte del equipo científico de la Estación de Bioloxía Marita de A Graña en Ferrol de la USC; Mientras que sus compañeros realizan las inmersiones para recoger las muestras, ella desde la cubierta del bote de apoyo clasifica todas las muestras obtenidas para su posterior análisis en el laboratorio. Maria es parte del equipo científico de la Estación de Bioloxía Marita de A Graña en Ferrol de la USC; Mientras que sus compañeros realizan las inmersiones para recoger las muestras, ella desde la cubierta del bote de apoyo clasifica todas las muestras obtenidas para su posterior análisis en el laboratorio.
Maria is part of the scientific team of the USC's Marita de A Graña Biological Station in Ferrol; While her colleagues carry out the dives to collect the samples, she, from the deck of the support boat, classifies all the samples obtained for later analysis in the laboratory.

"Such a complete study has never been done before, and it will serve as a reference at the Galician level because the decline in the productivity of banks is something that is happening in a generalised way," explains Xosé Lois Otero, who coordinates the research. "The most logical thing," he continues "is that the problem has multiple causes.' The study will determine the quality of the current system, the variations it experiences throughout the four seasons, and the changes produced in the last 200 years. The analyses that had been carried out to address these alterations in the growth of bivalves focused on the chemical parameters of the water and the possible parasites or microorganisms that affect the shellfish, but when it is something so sustained over time, there has to be more to it. That's why we want to analyse the sediment. What it tells us will be momentous.  

Sediment samples from the shellfish beds of the Eume river obtained from the Endesa study in collaboration with the Pontedeume shellfish gatherers' association and the Estación de Bioloxía Mariña de A Graña in Ferrol of the USC. Sediment samples from the shellfish beds of the Eume river obtained from the Endesa study in collaboration with the Pontedeume shellfish gatherers' association and the Estación de Bioloxía Mariña de A Graña in Ferrol of the USC.
Sediment samples from the shellfish beds of the Eume river obtained from the Endesa study in collaboration with the Pontedeume shellfish gatherers' association and the Estación de Bioloxía Mariña de A Graña in Ferrol of the USC.
Xosé Luis and María prepare to cut and analyse a sediment sample from the shellfish banks of the Eume river obtained from the Endesa study in collaboration with the Pontedeume shellfish gatherers' association and the Estación de Bioloxía Mariña de A Graña in Ferrol of the USC. Xosé Luis and María prepare to cut and analyse a sediment sample from the shellfish banks of the Eume river obtained from the Endesa study in collaboration with the Pontedeume shellfish gatherers' association and the Estación de Bioloxía Mariña de A Graña in Ferrol of the USC.
Xosé Luis and María prepare to cut and analyse a sediment sample from the shellfish banks of the Eume river obtained from the Endesa study in collaboration with the Pontedeume shellfish gatherers' association and the Estación de Bioloxía Mariña de A Graña in Ferrol of the USC.
María analyses in her laboratory a sample of sediment from the shellfish banks of the Eume river obtained from Endesa's study in collaboration with the Pontedeume shellfish gatherers' association and the Estación de Bioloxía Mariña de A Graña in Ferrol of the USC. María analyses in her laboratory a sample of sediment from the shellfish banks of the Eume river obtained from Endesa's study in collaboration with the Pontedeume shellfish gatherers' association and the Estación de Bioloxía Mariña de A Graña in Ferrol of the USC.
María analyses in her laboratory a sample of sediment from the shellfish banks of the Eume river obtained from Endesa's study in collaboration with the Pontedeume shellfish gatherers' association and the Estación de Bioloxía Mariña de A Graña in Ferrol of the USC.

Between the microscopes and laboratory tables, another important factor emerges to this problem: climate change. The increase in global temperature may also be behind this phenomenon. In about a year's time, when USC technicians finish their work, we will have the answer.    

Related content

advise icon go to the advise Facebook icon go to Facebook Twitter icon go to Twitter Youtube icon go to Youtube Messenger icon go to Messenger Linkedin icon go to Linkedin Instagram icon go to Instagram Shared Link icon Go to the shared link Checkmark Success icon Checkmark Success down arrow icon down arrow Previous Go to previous Next Go to the next close icon close add icon add up arrow icon up arrow oblique arrow icon look obliquely Arrow down icon Arrow down search engine icon search search engine icon search share icon share filter icon filter email icon send mail email icon email phone icon phone fax icon fac print icon print play icon play user icon go to the user section error icon an error has occurred info icon information thumb up icon like thumb up icon like thumb down icon don't like thumb down icon don't like clock icon Clock Lamp icon Lamp List icon List Map icon Go to the map Phone icon Phone Emergency icon Emergency Pause icon Pause Play icon Play Logout icon Sign off Phone icon Phone Download icon An icon representing a download Chat icon An icon representing a chat
go back icon go back in navigation number 50 icon go to product Tempo Happy 50 Horas calendar icon go to product Tempo Happy Día companies icon go to the business segment gas icon go to gas product catalog rising sun icon go to Tempo Verde-Renewable Energy product home icon go to the household segment 24 hours icon go to One Luz product electricity icon go to Luz's product catalog electricity and gas icon go to the Luz + Gas product catalog moon icon go to product One night light monkey wrench icon go to breakdowns and repairs sun icon go to Tempo Solar product clock icon go to Tempo Happy products 2 hour clock icon go to Tempo Happy 2 Hours product 24 hours icon go to product One Luz number 50 icon go to product Tempo Happy 50 Hours Medium Voltage power line See product catalog with electricity consumption from € 36,000 to € 360,000 / year High Voltage power line See catalog of products with electricity consumption more than € 360,000 / year company icon go to the business segment calendar icon go to product Tempo Happy Day Property management firms icon go to the Property management firms DarkSite icon DarkSite icon light bulb icon See product catalog with electricity consumption less than € 6,000 / year electricity and gas icon go to the Electricity+ Gas Products catalog electricity icon go to the electrical products catalog email icon email contact fax icon fax contact Low Pressure gas icon see catalog of gas products with consumption of less than € 6,000 / year High Pressure gas icon see catalog of gas products with consumption from € 6,000 to € 240,000 / year Medium Pressure gas icon see catalog of gas products with consumption of more than € 240,000 / year gas icon go to gas product catalog Enel icon go to the enel website heater icon heater maintenance service heater maintenance icon go to maintenance service OKGas Heater home icon go to the household segment pressure cooker icon pressure cooker monkey wrench icon go to breakdowns and repairs Medium Voltage power line icon see catalog of electricity products with consumption from € 6,000 to € 36,000 / year moon icon go to product One Night Light sphere icon go to personal website phone icon telephone contact rising sun icon go to Tempo Verde-Renewable Energy product solar panel icon go to photovoltaic solar energy clock icon go to Tempo Happy products black handyman icon with thumb down selected the reaction "I don't like it" little hand icon with thumb down select the reaction "I don't like it" black hand icon with thumb up selected the "like" reaction little hand icon with thumb up select the "like" reaction
Añadir otro equipo eléctrico Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Eliminar equipo eléctrico Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Aspiradora Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Horno Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Lavadora Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Lavavajillas Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Microondas Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Plancha Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Punto de recarga vehículo eléctrico Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Radiador eléctrico Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Secadora Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Split Aire Acondicionado Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Termo Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Tostador Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Vitrocerámica Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Power edit Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Map marker Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit.