The reappearance of habitats and the revival of forgotten species invisible for years is one of the unexpected effects of natural disasters.
Researchers from Universidad Austral de Chile and UC Santa Barbara’s Marine Science Institute (MSI) have produced amazing results on the effects of natural disasters on the sandy beaches around the world. They were able to analyze these effects in Chile.
In fact they were on site to present a study of the impact of dams on the beaches before the earthquake of 27 February 2010 that reached magnitude 8.8 and caused a devastating tsunami. After the earthquake, scientists have begun to assess its effects on the beaches they were studying.
“As expected, we saw high mortality of intertidal life on beaches and rocky shores, but the ecological recovery at some of our sandy beach sites was remarkable,” said Jenifer Dugan, an associate research biologist at MSI. ” Dune plants are coming back in places there haven’t been plants, as far as we know, for a very long time. The earthquake created sandy beach habitat where it had been lost. This is not the initial ecological response you might expect from a major earthquake and tsunami.”
In fact, on the beaches flooded by the tsunami, a tidal animals (small fish and shellfish) have been decimated but several beaches have been enlarged by the contributions of silt and the emergence of subtidal land. Of these, scientists have found a rapid return of plants and animals that were lost because of human-made armoring such as seawalls and rocky revetments.
“We know from this study that building coastal defense structures, such as seawalls, decreases beach area, and that a seawall results in the decline of intertidal diversity,” said Eduardo Jaramillo, who led the study published in PLoS One. “Our study confirms and reveals some unexpected effects of tsunamis. This is very important to consider because 80% of world’s coastline are sandy beaches. “He concluded.