Popcorn beach was frequented by pirates. Today it is home to thousands of instagrammers who love the unusual appearance of the shoreline.
Playa de El Hierro, en La Oliva
The Canary Islands has a collection of wonderful natural spots. Some are unknown to all but a few locals. Others are famous throughout the world. Popcorn Beach, located in the north of Fuerteventura, first went viral on the social networks. Then TV, radio, and newspapers picked up on the story. Popcorn beach’s real name is El Hierro beach, and it is located in La Oliva.
Instagrammers love to pick up a piece of the popcorn like material which is spread about the shore and pretend to eat it. Nobody though should eat the white things which are spread out on this part of the Fuerteventura coast. Rather than heated maize, the swollen material is in fact white coral which has been made as a consequence of the intermixture of calcareous algae and white sand over a period of at least 50 years. Rhodoliths, as the scientists call the formations, grow underwater at one millimetre a year, so if a particular section measures 25 centimetres it will have been growing for 250 years. Some rhodoliths have been judged as being more than 4000 years old. A beach like El Hierro beach near La Oliva can take centuries to develop its appearance.
Keep popcorn beach fun!
According to some sources more than ten kilos of coral is taken away from Popcorn Beach each month. It is vital that all visitors to Popcorn Beach remember that the white coral on the shore should never be broken up, much less put into pockets and taken home. Popcorn Beach is a fantastic space for visitors to enjoy. If everyone removes a bit of the beach, soon the shore will be empty.
The peculiar coral on Popcorn Beach has very high environmental value. According to the biologist Francisco Otero who spoke to El País, the coral whilst underwater absorbs carbon dioxide from the sea in a way that helps combat climate change. Moreover, the coral is a fabulous breeding ground for different marine species who use cavities in the formations to store their eggs.
It is because of the great environmental value of Popcorn Beach that so much is being done now to protect it. Public awareness campaigns have been hosted by governmental bodies; legislation has been written to determine the appropriate sanctions for those visitors that steal coral; and tourist operators have spoken directly to tourists so that they can be informed of relevant regulations. Beaches of environmental significant must be carefully protected. Responsible tourists are welcomed with open arms to Popcorn beach!