Report | July 20, 2017

The need of cartography for coralligenous and rhodoliths beds along the Mediterranean Sea: The Balearic Islands case

Coralligenous and rhodoliths beds are two types of biogenic habitats, structured by calcareous red algae. Widely distributed along the Mediterranean Sea, these formations create complex three-dimensional structures, where countless marine species –including those of high commercial value and endangered ones– feed, rest and nest. These characteristics confer the two habitats a great ecological and economic importance, which has motivated their protection under the European Community legislation and the development of an explicit action plan within the framework of the Barcelona Convention. During the past decades, dozens of scientific campaigns at sea have contributed to their knowledge, location and description, resulting in a substantial amount of available data about coralligenous and rhodoliths beds. The cartography of marine habitats is a necessary tool to apply certain specific conservation measures like the closure to bottom trawling of the areas where these habitats are present (Regulation 1967/2006). Thus, the presence, characteristics and importance of these habitats are especially well known in the bottoms surrounding the Balearic Islands (Western Mediterranean). A complete cartography was developed for these habitats in the Balearic area, coupling the best available scientific data (e.g. data published by the Spanish Oceanographic Institute) with the data compiled during Oceana expeditions carried out between 2006 and 2013.