Ascidian Aplidium albicans is a small filter-feeding animal which is whitish in colour, soft, and lives attached to the seabed. It has gone suddenly from being anonymous to being a superstar! This animal produces plitidepsin, a very effective antiviralfor combatting Covid. This discovery was made during a scientific investigation in the waters of Ibiza about 30 years ago.
Many conclusions can be drawn from this story. The first is that the sea continues to be unknown: a stranger with great potential. The second is that marine research is a fundamental pillar, a building block that needs excellent infrastructure and financing. This isn't happening in Spain yet, despite the great work of many scientists. And, last but not least: the sea offers many more benefits than we are aware of. Some of them, such as fisheries, cleanwaters and beautiful seascapes to swim and dive into, are evident; others, such as climate regulation or the prevention of the beach erosion due to posidonia habitats, are more abstract.
To guarantee better marine conservation, it's essential to make all these benefits visible, and bring to light the interdependence that exists between the state of our sea and multiple financial activities such as tourism and fishing. This is one of the priority lines of work for our foundation. Since 2018, we are working to develop a natural capital accounting system for the Balearic Sea: an essential tool to help us reconcile financial prosperity with the conservation of our natural heritage.