2024 Jun/19

Accessible Underwater Trail – Spain’s first

On the 7th of June, just before World Oceans Day, the Institute of Environment and Marine Science Research (IMEDMAR-UCV) of the Catholic University of Valencia inaugurated the Accessible Underwater Trail. An integral part of the Campus Capacitas activities, this trail is a dedicated structure for supporting people with disabilities and their families.

The UCV’s underwater trail is the first adapted trail in Spain. The route was designed ten years ago by IMEDMAR-UCV researchers in collaboration with the Calp Town Council, the Valencian Community Foundation for the Environment, and Saplaya Consultants. The trail was installed throughout multiple years, with construction work taking place in the summer season – an activity that has already become part of the DNA of IMEDMAR-UCV. In addition to supporting education and research, this project also became a symbol of integration and mutual aid.

Adaption for accessibility

This trail is installed at the Raco beach, Calpe, Spain, next to the IMEDMAR-UCV Marine Station. It was designed to allow anyone to use it by simply wearing diving goggles. To adapt the trail for people with disabilities, a ‘snorkel enable’ setup was installed. It is a system that includes a stretcher with floats, allowing the visitor to lie down and submerge his/her head in the water after putting on a full face snorkel mask.

The length of the trail is 120 meters, with floating buoys placed alongside it. At each buoy, swimmers can find an explanatory sign with images of marine species, which allows for more informed observation of the marine environment and the most important species in the area.

Educational and Inclusive Experience

Some of the first visitors of the trail on the opening day were people with disabilities from UCV and the Asindown Foundation. This organisation supports families with Down syndrome relatives, providing additional support and company during all stages of their lives, and promotes associative movement with the mission of creating a more inclusive world.

After testing out the trail, the participants also visited the IMEDMAR-UCV Marine Station and enjoyed a paella together. The regional television echoed the inauguration of the Adapted Underwater Trail 2024 as well, sharing some information about its development and availability for visits.

This activity is a national reference for awareness and protection of the marine environment It is designed for people of all ages, free of charge, and can be visited every day. People with disabilities can contact imedmar@ucv.es (IMEDMAR-UCV) to arrange an appointment if they wish to use snorkel-enable or visit our facilities and permanent exhibition in the marine station.

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