Las consecuencias medioambientales de los tsunamis

En las informaciones sobre los tsunamis que devastaron el Asia sudoriental hace apenas un mes han predominado –y resulta comprensible- los relatos de muertes, sufrimientos y destrucción física de las infraestructuras, pero el hombre no fue el único que sintió sus repercusiones. También resultaron afectados los ecosistemas y otras especies.

Desde luego, en las imágenes fotográficas y de vídeo transmitidas por los medios de comunicación se han visto árboles barridos por las olas y tierras totalmente encharcadas. Otras informaciones se han referido a la fauna salvaje que escapó a la destrucción, pues algún tipo de instinto parece haberle inspirado la necesidad de buscar terrenos más altos antes de la llegada de las olas del tsunami. Y, sin embargo, se sigue informando menos de lo que se debería sobre el alcance total de las repercusiones medioambientales de los tsunamis, pese a su evidente importancia para la recuperación de las zonas afectadas y el bienestar de los supervivientes.

La experiencia adquirida con motivo de anteriores tsunamis y otras inundaciones importantes indica que los daños medioambientales que causan están vinculados con la invasión de las capas freáticas por el agua salada y la desaparición de las playas o su aparición en otros lugares. Los tsunamis pueden hacer que islas pequeñas y bajas resulten inhabitables. La vegetación en grandes extensiones de tierras bajas puede resultar dañada en gran medida, pues los manglares y las hierbas que resisten el agua salada ocupan el lugar de otras especies. En el caso de animales escasos y con emplazamientos concretos para la reproducción, como las tortugas marinas, los efectos de los tsunamis pueden significar su extinción.

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