Mapping project

Project developed and executed by the Azul Marino Foundation
Phase 4:

Ecological status of the Orpesa - Benicàssim marine SCI protected area

This project, carried out in 2019, aimed to determine the ecological status of the Orpesa – Benicàssim marine SCI protected area (ES0000447), as well as the characterization and evaluation of the degree of conservation of Posidonia oceanica meadows. For an evaluation of the ecological status we rely on both biological and physical-chemical indicators: Biological indicators include phytoplankton, seagrass meadows and macroinvertebrates of sedimentary bottoms. These three elements act as bioindicators of the environmental state, allowing to define the degree of balance of the ecosystem. Regarding the physical-chemical indicators, concentrations of nutrients and polluting chemicals were analyzed. The evaluation of the set of physical-chemical values allows detecting risk situations, whether of natural or anthropic origin.

During the study, three sampling campaigns were carried out (spring, autumn and winter) along 8 transects, with a total of 16 sampling points. In turn, for the characterization and evaluation of the conservation status of the Posidonia oceanica meadows, 21 transects and 42 counting tables were established. In addition, with the aim of complementing the study, a detailed mapping was carried out, with side scan sonar and towed video camera, to define the limits of the different communities found in the SCI zone: Posidonia oceanica meadows, Cymodocea nodosa, rocky substratum bottoms and sedimentary bottoms. This project seeks to be a starting point for monitoring the Orpesa-Benicàssim marine SCI space that will serve as a basis for sustainable management, enhancement and protection of this coastal area.

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Exclusive ecosystems of the Mediterranean Sea

Within the marine zone of this SCI there are meadows of two very important seagrasses: Cymodocea nodosa and Posidonia oceanica, the latter, exclusive to the Mediterranean, is of great ecological value