Gulf of Cadiz


The marine environment of the Doñana site is, as occurs in the terrestrial domain, an exceptional site for biodiversity. Situated in the Gulf of Cadiz, at the confluence of special geographic, oceanographic and environmental characteristics, the marine area of Doñana is a place of enormous strategic and biological productivity. It is of great importance for man and many species of fauna and flora, many of them protected, from cetaceans and sea turtles to corals, molluscs and fish.

Unfortunately, the protection and management measures granted to the terrestrial environment of this unique place (such as the declaration of the National Park, Biosphere Reserve, Natural Heritage Site, Wetland of International Importance, or its inclusion in the  Natura 2000) have not been applied to the sea, beyond the small strip of sea included in the National Park boundaries.

On the other hand, from the point of view of the pressures resulting from human activity, areas related to marine estuaries require special attention, because, generally, and due to its high productivity, they concentrate commercial species and are therefore targeted areas of the fishing industry. Moreover, in this case it is an area of high interest due to its geographical location and strategic focus makes for numerous activities.

Read our report on Doñana and the Gulf of Caidz here.

Oceana has documented for years the seabed marine area in front of Doñana, with professional divers and an underwater robot (ROV), carrying out almost 100 dives between 10 and 105 meters deep. The analysis of the information obtained has served to identify the areas of greatest ecological interest and to substantiate the need for protection (Spanish) and management of these rich waters.

The detailed analysis of the information collected over the years allows us to determine the most relative areas of biodiversity, such as the waterfront of Rota and Chipiona, where there are rock outcrops with dense forests of tree coral (Dendrophyllia ramea), corals Caryophyllia spp. and showy orange coral colonies (Astroides calycularis). The latter is a protected species that had never been seen in front of Doñana until it was filmed by Oceana and here is its westernmost known distribution.

Further north, in front of Mazagon, there are also rocky bottoms with gorgonians such as Leptogorgia sarmentosa or Elisella paraplexauroides, sponges and many other invertebrates, creating important habitats for many species, some of them of high commercial value. Other non rocky areas, composed entirely of muddy bottoms, are home to many species of commercial and ecological value, for which they also need to be managed properly.