A new species that was found living in the Atlántida Tunnel has been officially named “César" after the Lanzarote artist César Manrique. César is a tiny worm, just a millimeter in length, from the group of species known as annelids (los anélidos) which is from the french verb and means little ringed ones, they are segmented worms found in earth, fresh or sea water. This tiny new species was found in March 2009 during an expedition of the Atlántida Tunnel by scientists from American and European universities.
The Atlántida Tunnel is part of the volcanic tunnel that connects the Volcan La Corona in the North of the island to the Cuevos de los Verdes, Jameos del Agua and the Atlantic ocean, at 7.5km this is the longest volcanic tube in the world! The new worm was named after César Manrique in recognition of his work and that of his foundation who were only inaugurated some six months before his death in 1992. The map on the left shows the route of the tunnel from the corona out to sea, the Atlántida section starts just behind the bar and restaurant area at the Jameos del Agua. The entire length of the Atlántida tunnel is submerged with seawater, access out into the Atlantic ocean is not possible but it is tidal, the water is passed through tiny fissures, there is an hours delay between the tide level of the Jameos del Agua and the tunnel.
Alexander Martinez, aged 24 was part of the group that discovered César, he explained that the tiny worm was found 700m in the interior of the marine cave in the zone known as the sand mountain (Montaña de Arena). This mountain of sand has been forced through the rock from the sea over the centuries and now measures some 20m in height. Following the discovery and the naming of the worm, the Fundación César Manrique have awarded a scholarship to promising biologist Alexander Martinez.
In order to protect the tunnel, there have only been 10 biological explorations to date, diving has to be by special license, with closed circuit diving equipment and only granted to experienced cave divers. Normally visitors to the Jameos del Agua see the ‘Jameito’ the blind white shrimp crab, within the Atlántida tunnel there have been at least 50 different species listed from the explorations so far.
The English Edition of the Lancelot, Lanzarote Tourist Guide, issue 112 published in Spring 2009 had an in depth article covering the 2008 Diving Expedition of the tunnel, if you’d like to know more about the discoveries at Atlántida.
Timanfaya National Park