Brazil: oil spill threatens tourist season - The360 Travel

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  • Sunday, December 15, 2019

    Brazil: oil spill threatens tourist season

    Brazil: oil spill threatens tourist season

    At the desolate sight of their heavenly beaches stained by the oil spill, many residents of northeastern Brazil fear that the high tourist season is already compromised, even if their mobilization has allowed to quickly clean beaches.

    Especially since President Jair Bolsonaro himself said Sunday night: "the worst is yet to come".

    In the Pernambuco, on the beaches of Paiva, Itapuama and Enseada dos Corais, about thirty kilometers from Recife, the population found themselves helpless when the first oil slabs appeared on 21 October.

    Without protective equipment and without knowing what to do in the face of such a disaster, fishermen, tourist guides and many other inhabitants whose income depends on the use of these beaches did not hesitate to pick up the oil residues that littered the sand.

    Some even threw themselves into the sea to try to remove the viscous mass that floated between the waves, bringing with it a strong smell of gasoline.

    "People entered the water without gloves, without any safety equipment, in the middle of the oil. I had never seen such a thing, "says Glaucia Dias de Lima, a coconut seller on the beach.

    In Itapuama, an iconic photo of AFP on which we can see the distress of the young Everton Miguel dos Anjos, 13, emerging from the black water covered with oil has shown the full dimension of this human drama.

    The government may have mobilized more than 2,700 soldiers, with dozens of planes and ships, but the population considers this reaction too late and insufficient.

    Nature "call for help"

    Although the sand seems clean when you watch the beach from afar, Glaucia continues to pick up fine black pellets that continue to stream from time to time.

    A few kilometers away, at the mouth of the Massangana, oil continues to contaminate the roots of mangrove plants, an ecosystem rich in biodiversity.

    "We see that nature is calling for help. We can not wait for the government to clean up, says Vandecio Santana, a seafood fisherman, removing a black stain from a root.

    Pending the results of chemical tests on the quality of seawater for swimming and fish for consumption, residents are worried about the approach of the holiday season, when attendance is the stronger.

    "This disaster will affect tourism, for sure," says Giovana Eulina, an ecotourism guide who knows every corner of Cabo de Santo Agostinho.

    "We will have to put in place campaigns to get people here," says this well-bred and smiling woman, who proudly displays a tattoo of the goddess of the seas Iemanja on her calf.

    "Do not stop coming"

    The bad news is linked to ecotourism in Brazil, with the arrival last weekend of the first fragments of oil residues on the archipelago of Abrolhos, near Bahia, a sanctuary for humpback whales and for unique coral formations in the world.

    But tourists who are already there in Pernambuco, north of Bahia, do not seem too disturbed.

    Beatriz Montes Bastos enjoys the last of her ten days of vacation with her friends on the beach of Calhetas, a small cove bathed in crystal clear water.

    She left Maceio, in the neighboring state of Alagoas, going north through Maragogi, one of the most emblematic beaches in northeastern Brazil, and barely noticed the oil spill.

    "On a single beach, we saw some small patties, but there were quite a few tourists and the hotels were full," she says.

    On Sunday, residents of several seaside resorts of Pernambuco organized beach ceremonies to thank the volunteers who took care of the cleaning and to show tourists that the seaside was clean now.

    "They must not stop coming," says Glaucia.

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