Pond Dipping in Francolí

Saturday morning me and Mika got our welly boots on and went to a small workshop to look at the biodiversity in Francolí river, just outside of Tarragona. Apparently it is the most polluted river in Europe, so in terms of biodiversity is one of the lowest as low biodiversity corresponds with high pollution in lakes, rivers and ponds. Only the most robust species are able to survive.

But there were still some things to be found, like the American crayfish (not the native Iberian crayfish), dragonfly larvae, damselfly larvae, mayfly nymphs, a frog and a tadpole, and an air breathing aquatic beetle that doesn’t look aquatic, plus various other little creatures. I don’t know how many times I’ve done surveys in water habitats like this, taking a net and tray and seeing what there is, but it’s always very interesting. The main difference was that it wasn’t in English but Catalan, which surprisingly I could catch some of.

The American crayfish is causing problems with the native Iberian Crayfish, since it is more competitive and more immune to a fungal disease that is killing of the Iberian crayfish. We’re lucky enough to have a small colony of Iberian crayfish in a stream on the land, and I hope it remains like that for a long time to come.

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Roman Tarraco

I went to Tarragona to do the tourist thing again; it never gets boring as the history is very deep. You can’t dig anywhere without finding a bit of archeology.

“You’ve found an ancient Cessetani* coin under a lettuce root? Throw it with the others…”

They built a shopping centre with an underground car park and kept some archeology there on display instead of just demolishing it to make more car park.

It’s typical of Spain to have a juxtaposition of new and old – they build a brand new sparkling skyscraper with all the mod cons and next door there’s a goatherd grazing his goats (for instance) – but Tarragona has really gone all out, building flats on the old Roman walls – apparently the oldest Roman walls outside of Italy – and sunbathing on a beach next to an ampitheatre/church/prison/tourist attraction (depending on what era you’re looking at).

2000 years or so of history; I don’t think I’m going to get bored any time soon, lol.

* name of pre-Roman Iberian tribe in and around Tarragona area.