Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean. - Ryunosuke Satoro
Today, we celebrate the Balearic Government's success in a court case to secure the administrative management of Cabrera Archipelago Maritime-Terrestrial National Park.
Cabrera is an island archipelago, located directly south of Mallorca but considered part of Mallorca. This ruling expands the protected area from 80,779 marine hectares to 90,800 marine hectares (908 square kilometres or 351 sq mi) including 895 square kilometres (346 sq mi) of sea area, establishing this as The largest National Park in the Mediterranean. Bravo!!
Why this is important? #
The Ministry for Ecological Transition considered the expansion a priority to ensure protections of the natural marine systems. According to Oceana: "Within the park are 12 out of the 13 natural systems cited within the Law governing National Parks, making Cabrera the largest and most biodiverse national park in the western Mediterranean.
The expansion area is comprised of eleven of these natural systems and add to the previously-protected undersea meadows. Some of the natural systems found here are:
- Shoals and steep escarpments, including the Emile Baudot escarpment—one of the most emblematic escarpments in the Mediterranean, that drops from -200m to -2,000m.
- Coralligenous areas, including the Fort d’en Moreu reef where spectacular gorgonian gardens and laminaria forests can be found
- Pelagic areas of passage, reproduction or with the habitual presence of cetaceans or large migratory fish, a natural system that had, until now, not been part of the Spanish national parks network. In the case of Cabrera, the addition of the system will benefit fish like the red tuna and swordfish and cetaceans like the sperm whale.
- Nesting habitat for over 130 migratory species"
To read more on the studies conducted by Oceana Europe, make sure to go to their site here >> Oceana Research
You can watch a magnificent video showing the bio-diversity of Cabrera below.
Oceana's Campaign for Cabrera
Showcasing the rich bio-diversity and immense importance of this maritime area.
Shipwrecks off the coast of Cabrera date back to the Punic and Roman Era with evidence of human settlements from the Talayotic Period from 1300 BC-123 BC.
According to Middlebury Institute: "During the period from 425 AD- 903 AD, the Byzantine-Paleo Christian era, the island was home to a somewhat significant settlement centered in the port region of Cabrera. It was also home to a monastery in a basilica whose ruins can still be seen today. The existence of this monastery is confirmed by a letter from Pope Gregory in 603 AD instructing Defender Johannes to deal with the issue of the monks living on Cabrera.
Fast forward to 1410 A.D. with the oldest references to the Castle of Cabrera which is located with a clear view of the port of Cabrera. In 1510, the tower was destroyed by Berbers. According to the Visitor's Guide (2004), "The castle was destroyed and rebuilt at least ten times, but pirate attacks often prevented the necessary building materials from reaching the port. A story of pirate plundering also gives us some of the earlier history of fishing around the island when twenty-two fishermen and their boats were captured by Berber pirates in the sixteenth century."
As the Europeans gained greater control of the Mediterranean, domestic and regional conflicts were more prevalent than piracy. Not until 1716 was the castle granted to the King of Spain. Between 1809-1814, the island was used to house approximately 9,000 prisoners captured in the Napoleonic Wars in southern Spain. Only 3,600 survived to return to France. Over the next century, many attempts were made to resettle the island. One family had settled there - the Feliu Family. But in 1916, the island officially became property of the state and used for national defense purposes.
In 1991, the Government of Spain declared Cabrera a national park with a mission to protect the history and biodiversity of the land and surrounding territorial waters.
Although the island is uninhabited except by park guards, thousands of visitors come by boat every year to absorb Cabrera’s rich history and experience its natural beauty."
What To Do #
Ethnography Museum Can Feliu Cellar is home to the museum, located 3 km from the Port, where you'll see a selection of local flora and fauna along with archeological findings from Pla de ses Figueretes and the Clot des Guix sites.
Cova Blava (Blue Cave) The Blue Cave is a small sea cave on the north part of the island which ranges from 6 metres high in the entrance to 20 metres in the inside. Scuba, snorkel or take a boat into the cave. Afternoon light creates a spectacular setting for special events.
Where To Stay #
Cabrera Shelter No hotels exist on the island. The old military facilities have been converted to lodging with 12 double rooms, each with a private bathroom. The building has a kitchen with a fridge and microwave and shared common areas. Priced reasonably at €60/room per night during high season and less in the low season. If you pack in on the ferry, make sure to bring food and drink as you will have a limited selection at the Cantina.
Cabrera is a must-see for nature lovers - hiking, snorkeling, scuba diving! After looking at the Oceana video, plan your next adventure that will last a lifetime.
By Memphis Holland
3 September, 2021