The Wetlands of Castro Marim
An Ecological Reserve Between Land and Sea
The waters here are among the cleanest in the world and yield salts rich in minerals and tasting of the sea. The landscape is dominated by salt evaporation ponds and marshes, a natural habitat for a great number of animals.
This ecological reserve, provides shelter, breeding and feeding conditions for many species of molluscs, fish, reptiles, amphibians and crustaceans. A macroinvertebrate called Artemia salina, occurs naturally in the salt evaporation pond, being the base of the food chain of several fowl birds.
The great wealth of plant life, with over 400 types of plants, makes this area a true botanic paradise. The vegetation of the walls of the salt evaporation ponds provides conditions for the nesting, protection, and feeding of several waterfowl and stabilizes the salt ponds. The maintenance of the vegetation and the protection of the fowl nesting locations increase the environmental richness of the salt evaporation pond ecosystem preserving this ecossystem. At higher levels, the area extends right up to the Algarvian range of mountains, sheltering vineyards and almonds trees. But the salt evaporation ponds are mainly composed of Sarcocornia (Sarcocornia sp.), Limoniastrum (Limoniastrum monopetalum), and the Salicornia (Salicornia sp.) which is edible and has soft and succulent extremities with a delicious salty taste that is very much appreciated in countries like France and Italy.
The Sapal de Castro Marim shelters some 153 different species throughout the year. Species such as the Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber, Dunlin Calidris alpina, Little Stint Calidris minuta and Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus can be observed in the salt evaporation ponds. This site is the breeding ground for a large number of Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus, Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta and Little Tern Sterna albifrons. Lastly, it also has a significant population of Spectacled Warbler Sylvia conspicillata and the only Portuguese population of Lesser Short-toed Lark Calandrella rufescens.