Over 2000 marine species have been observed in the waters of the Marine Park - a biodiversity record far superior to other coastal areas nearby. With so many species in just 53 km2, this is a true oasis of marine life!
Along the Arrábida coast, the environmental and geographical conditions determine the existence of different types of habitats. Some of those habitats are key for the reproduction, feeding and refuge of many marine species, some of which with high commercial importance.
In the Arrábida waters, many marine species meet within their limits of distribution, as some are from colder waters and others are from warmer waters. This is one of the reasons that explains the high number of species found in the Marine Park.
From fisheries to tourism, froms sports to leisure, these waters bring prosperity to the region. The Arrábida coast has long attracted human presence, sculpting local communities, their habits and behaviours. The Marine Park ensures that future generations will continue to enjoy this special sea.
It is the biodiversity that we find in the Arrábida waters that make this sea so special. But this diversity of species and habitats is threatened by the impacts of human activities. The Marine Park has the mission of lowering the negative impacts and recovering local species and habitats.
Every year, the Marine Park attracts divers who carry out tens of thousands of dives in these waters to observe and photograph the beauty and diversity of marine life.
Whoever dives in the Marine Park must pay attention: many of its smallest marine organisms, such as these anemones, are also the most colorful and extravagant. This enormous biodiversity is due to the unique conditions of the Arrábida coast.
A mink whale visits the coast of Arrábida-Espichel. The rich, calm waters of the Marine Park offer a stopping point and refuge for many migratory species, including whales, dolphins and seabirds.
The blue-shark is one of the most common predator species of the Arrábida coast, yet these animals are currently threatened by intensive fishing. The presence of animals from the top of the food chain is essential to achieve healthy ecosystems.
Arrábida-Espichel is a very special coast. It has a much larger number of species when compared to other coastal areas of the country. This high biodiversity is due to a number of factors. Part of this coast is exposed to the south and is composed of limestone cliffs that create very diverse marine environments, therefore exhibiting many calm and sheltered bays that offer refuge and breeding areas to a large number of species. In the western part, close to Cape Espichel, the coast is hit by the dominant northwest swell and the seabed reaches greater depths. Next to Arrábida, there is the Sado estuary, a highly productive area. Also nearby is the Setúbal Canyon, with its great oceanic depths that contribute to the high marine biodiversity of this region.
It is also in Arrábida that many species find their distribution limits. This is a transition zone between the warm water species from the south and the cold water species from the north, and therefore an ideal place to study the effects of climate change. Scientific studies are carried out here, applying innovative technologies and methods to understand the functioning of this special ecosystem and the consequences of the various impacts it faces. This information serves as a basis for the management of the Marine Park, a coastal area very important for the country's natural marine values.