THE ACADEMY COLUMN
This week we have met in Murcia about twenty scientists specialized in European coastal lagoons. All of them among the 50 researchers who publish the most in this area. In the Mediterranean alone there are more than 400 coastal lagoons, and we must add the Atlantic ones, frequently more linked to estuaries. The spectrum of cases ranges from the Curonian lagoon, in the Baltic, the largest in Europe and five times larger than the Mar Menor, to the string of lagoons in the south of France, such as Thau or Prevost, the Venice lagoon, three times larger than the Mar Menor, and those of the Po delta, in the Adriatic or those of the Gulf of Amvrakikos in Greece, a country that alone has more than 40. And, of course, the Mar Menor, the most hyperhaline and perhaps unique. Its uses are heterogeneous, from large commercial ports in the Curonian, to industrial estates and historical-cultural tourism in Venice, or aquaculture farms such as in France and Greece. They all share the high biological and fishing production and the pressures due to human activity in their watershed, mainly the input of nutrients. Beyond the knowledge of the ecological and hydrographic processes that determine its functioning, the concern is to be able to apply them to its conservation and the restoration of its balance. Among all of them, the Mar Menor is characterized by its biodiversity, but, above all, for being one of the few, if not the only one, that had transparent waters and ideal conditions for recreational and bathing tourism. Despite their great geomorphological and hydrographic heterogeneity, all coastal lagoons have similar operating mechanisms determined by their restricted connectivity with the open sea. This conditions their settlements, always subject to colonization by species in which chance and extreme lagoon conditions play a fundamental role, and their capacity for response and self-regulation in the face of environmental and anthropic pressures. Much remains to be known, in the last 30 years lagoon ecology studies have advanced spectacularly, contributing significantly to research in the Mar Menor. The ability to make diagnoses allows solutions to be proposed, but science is not enough. If socially there is no clarity of ideas, if ideologies weigh more than data and reasoning, if opportunism and protagonism prevail and political strategies blow up any action that can solve the problem, little can be done. The responsibility of movements and social pressure groups is enormous and they should be aware of it. When looking for culprits, it is worth looking in the mirror and considering what solutions we are proposing and what responsibility we have if we prevent the use of vaccines because we are against the pharmaceutical industry.