Science: There is also drought at sea

The title of this article does not declare a bad experience on any Love Boat, rather it is the summary of a […]

The title of this article does not declare a bad experience on any Love Boat, rather it is the summary of a conversation this weekend.

The café is called Beira-Mar and I shared a table with the owner who is also the Master of a fishing boat.

The conversation started, like so many others, by time.

“It's a drought,” he told me.

“Well, go. It's not raining now…well, in other years I don't notice the weather like this time”, I replied. “Since my son was born, and it's been almost three months now, the boy has only had one morning of rain”, I summed up the recent weather in the Algarve.

“Well…drought is bad for everything. There's nothing for it to do, it's bad for the fields, for fishing…”

“For fishing?” I interrupted, thinking it was a mistake.

“Yes, for fishing it is also necessary for rain on land. If it rains, the sea turns and this is good for the work. The land that comes from land feeds the fish…drought on land is also dry at sea!”

The apparent contradiction, that there was a drought at sea, after the initial astonishment, made me think that Mestre was more than right.

Whenever it rains on land, the sediments are dragged into the watercourses and, in turn, these are transported to the sea. The sea is then laden with sediments coming from the land, with a changed color, as if it had been plowed. Is this what the fisherman meant by “turned over”?


The entire continental sedimentary input, loaded with organic and mineral matter, contributes to the productivity of the marine environment. Chemical elements such as carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus are fundamental to marine ecosystems. The lack of a means to transport them from land to sea, water, will lead to changes in the productivity of these ecosystems. The terrestrial influence is especially important in estuarine environments such as the one the Mestre referred to and where he fishes – in areas close to the mouth of the River Arade.

The sea needs water and substances from the earth. The marine ecosystems and also the fishermen depend on an upset sea.

Coffee conversations have this: we realize that drought on land… is also dry at sea.



Lake, PS (2011) Estuaries and Drought, in Drought and Aquatic Ecosystems: Effects and Responses, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444341812.ch10

See chapter 10 “Estuaries and drought” in Google Books


Author Luis Azevedo Rodrigues is a professor, doctorate in Paleontology, science evangelist and coordinator of the Living Science Centers of the Algarve

He is also the author of the blog Science in the Natural