A report by the OECD has found that charges for mobile phone services in Spain are amongst the highest in the world, with only the US having higher tariffs (article in Castilian, El Pais). The study found that making a mobile phone call here can cost up to 60 percent more than the average for the 30 countries investigated by the OECD. In contrast, it is much cheaper to use one's mobile in the UK and Scandinavian countries, even though the cost of living in those places tends to be higher. In 2006, the Spanish government opened up the mobile phone market to competition, which in theory should have led to reduced prices but instead seems to have had the opposite effect.
The rice crops of the Delta del Ebre region of Catalunya are at risk from a plague of South American snails (article in Castilian, El Periodico). Rice farmers in the southern Catalan area are concerned by the rapid spread of the invader mollusc, which can grow to up to 15 minutes in diameter and has a large reproductive capacity. Known as the 'apple snail' (caracol manzana, pomacea bridgesii), its eggs were first spotted in drainage areas in the Delta in June and locals are worried that they may reach the paddy fields and thus cause serious damage before the next harvest as they eat young shoots of rice plants. The organisation Unió de Pagesos for the Baix Ebre county wants the drainage areas to be dried out as a first step to stopping the potentially disastrous spread of the snail.
The number of jellyfish (meduses) found along the Catalan coast in June and July this year fell by half compared to 2008 (article in Catalan, Avui). The Catalan Water Agency and researchers from the Institute of Sea Sciences has been investigating the presence of jellyfish in local waters for the past two years and believe that there are various reasons why there are less creatures this year: firstly, there have been significant winds blowing parallel to the coast, rather than from the sea towards the shore, a phenomonen which has tended to drag the jellyfish towards beaches. Another possible explanation is that many jellyfish died in the strong storms that Catalunya experienced at the start of this year. However, one of the people involved with the study, Josep María Gill, warned that this month of August the number of jellyfish was starting to rise again.
Also in the news: Catalan hospital could be first in Spain to do face transplant (Avui); Over 3,000 obstacles for pedestrians identified in front of Barcelona shops and businesses (El Periodico); Property sales fell 25 percent in June (La Vanguardia)