There are approximately 74 wetlands in Spain. These magnificent natural areas are an ideal place both to learn more about the nature of the Iberian Peninsula and to spend a fantastic day out. Located all over the map, among the large number of wetlands in Spain, a small handful stand out, either for their unique characteristics or their history. Although, in any case, they are all worth a visit.
A wetland is an extension of land that is temporarily or permanently flooded with water. This allows the formation of unique ecosystems where the natural diversity of the terrestrial environment is intermingled with that of the aquatic environment. A wetland is considered to be a place with a shallow water table, i.e. the distance between the water level and the land surface is very shallow. Wetlands can be composed of various geographical areas, such as lagoons, marshes, estuaries and swamps.
Thus, wetlands can be differentiated into 5 morphological types, such as marine, riparian, lacustrine, palustrine and estuarine. This classification depends on their origin, whether caused by the overflow of a river, by the mouth of the sea or by river flows. All types of flora and fauna can be found in wetlands, depending on their location and climatology. Some serve as a stopover point for many migratory birds, while others are the permanent home of others. Not to mention the presence of other animals, such as fish, mammals and mollusks.
Most wetlands in Spain are encompassed in natural parks and national parks. During the last few years their protection and conservation has become especially relevant, as changes in the environment seriously affect these unique natural spaces.
Doñana National Park is one of the most recognized wetlands in Spain. Located in Andalusia, it is one of the most important migratory bird crossings between Europe and Africa. Up to 200,000 species of aquatic birds are welcomed by its waters, making it an ideal place for lovers of these animals.
Its name comes from Arabic, meaning ‘small sea’. The Albufera in the Valencian Community is an idyllic spot with large areas of ecological value. In this natural park highlights the Albufera Lake, the largest lake in Spain, as well as the dunes of Las Malladas and the beach of La Punta.
The exceptional flora and fauna found in the Ebro Delta is a jaw-dropping spectacle. Located in the south of Catalonia, it has about 7,700 hectares of wetland where you can find more than 500 species. The flamingos are a highlight, offering a touch of color to the wetland.
The Mar Menor in Murcia is the largest saltwater lagoon in Europe with 170 square kilometers of extension. To its landscape value we must add the presence of 5 islands with a curious volcanic origin, in addition to a great biodiversity in which you can observe many species of birds, fish and mollusks.
Located between Zaragoza and Teruel, the Gallocanta Lagoon is one of the largest natural saltwater lagoons in Europe. Its spectacular landscape invites some 220 species of waterfowl and birds of prey to live there. Among these, the cranes have become the protagonists and a source of interest for many visitors.
The Santoña Marshes, in Cantabria, have the curious peculiarity of having one of the most interesting links between the aquatic and terrestrial environments. This makes it possible to observe all kinds of birds, and it is possible to take a guided ornithological tour along the paths or by boat.
For those who are true fans of the colorful flamingos, the Fuente de Piedra lagoon in Málaga has special relevance for this bird: it is an important breeding area, with a large number of spaces where they nest. Visiting it at the right time offers one of the most beautiful spectacles to see.
Because the residents of the Balearic Islands can also enjoy one of the best wetlands in Spain. The Albufera de Mallorca offers a space where two thirds of the island’s birds gather. With four routes that can be visited on foot or by bicycle, it is essential to bring binoculars to observe all the fauna that lives here.
A few years ago it was in serious danger of disappearing, but the Tablas de Daimiel wetland has survived. Located in Castile La-Mancha, it is formed thanks to the overflows caused by the rivers Gigüela and Guadiana. In addition, many birds use it as a wintering and nesting area.
Another natural area that has been threatened by climate change for many years is the Marshes of Sancti Petri and Isla del Trocadero. Located in Cádiz, it is an excellent place to visit thanks to the investment that has been made, being able to make tours on foot, by bicycle, canoes and even by train.
It is located in the north of Catalonia, on the Costa Brava, and is the second most important wetland in this community. Its 4,400 hectares of extension invite a large number of waterfowl to nest on a regular basis. Formed by the waters of the Fluvià and Muga rivers, it is a great place to visit.
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