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Restoring biodiversity


They may look like plants, but gorgonians are in fact marine animals. This type of slow growth corals provides habitat for many species, so they are very important for the richness of marine ecosystems. In the Marine Park, researchers identified and characterized populations of gorgonians, concluding that they were suffering human impacts. To recover these populations, biologists cut small fragments of donor gorgonians, which they transplant to impacted areas, pasting them in holes made in the rock with underwater drills.


During the last decades, the coast of Arrábida has lost at least ten hectares of seagrass meadows that covered the bay of Portinho da Arrábida and Galápos. With the creation of the Marine Park, efforts have been made to recover these seagrass meadows. As a result of these efforts, in 2011 the BIOMARES Program transplanted 11 m2 of the Zostera marina seagrass originally from healthy populations of the Ria Formosa, in the Algarve. These have been growing, exceeding 100 m2 in 2017. More transplants of these marine plants continue to be done under the BIOMARES Program.

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In the Marine Park are large forests of brown algae (kelp), which provide protection, reproduction and food for a wide variety of species, such as fish and invertebrates of high commercial value. Very sensitive to environmental changes, the distribution of these forests in the Marine Park has undergone great variations over the years. The BIOMARES Program has carried out tests on kelp recovery techniques using the natural species of the Marine Park. The conservation of these populations is crucial, since their characteristics are unique amongst their global distribution.

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Dozens of “environmentally friendly” moorings were installed under the BIOMARES program, in the Portinho da Arrábida bay and in areas of the Marine Park used for leisure and diving. These moorings (buoys) prevent the dragging of cables on the seabed, caused by the mooring of vessels. In this way it is possible to reconcile nautical activities with the conservation and recovery of the biodiversity of these waters.