Site details

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5 stars - Fully protected as a national park or Natura 2000 site by national legislation
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Fajã dos Cúberes in NE coast of São Jorge Island. Photo: RR Ferraz (ImagDOP)

Synoptic description of site:

A complex of unique brackish lagoons and habitats highly exposed to surge, within a 23 Km wide stretch of coast.

Extensive description of site:

The site is located in the coastal area of São Jorge Island from 38º38'N, 27º58'W to 38º33'N, 27º46'W, and comprises a complex of unique brackish lagoons and marine rocky habitats highly exposed to prevailing swells, within a 23 km wide stretch of coast. It comprises intertidal and sublittoral rocky habitats, including the 2 single brackish lagoons in the archipelago, located on shallow platforms originating from cliff landslides. One islet is highly exposed to oceanic currents and vast boulder fields of volcanic rock are also included on the site.

Habitats present:
LittoralX X
Seagrass beds 

Description of fauna and flora:

The lagoons vary in their species and habitat composition, but in both there is an intermediate salinity that results in unique environments in the Azorean context. For example, Tapes decussatus is present in the southern lagoon, and Ruppia maritima in the northern lagoon. Outside the lagoons there is a narrow zone of shallow water followed by a steep slope to depths of around 1000 m. At the shelf edge there are strong currents and the a mixture of coastal and open-ocean species such as Corypahena hippurus. The surrounding cliffs are important nesting habitats for marine birds.

Human impact:

Demersal fisheries are practiced throughout the area and the lagoons are used by tourists and for clam harvesting. The fishery is regulated by annually renewable permits issued by the regional government.


Two small villages with marine harbours are located on each side of the area, providing the operational basis for coastal research. The University facilities, 30 km away, can be easily accessed by ship. The island is served by regular flights from other islands in the archipelago.

Available database and website:

A temporary website is available at:


Commitment and ongoing research:

There is a written commitment from individual scientists with project budgets to study the area. Several published papers and reports dealing with biodiversity (species lists, ecology), physiography and geomorphology of coastal lagoons have resulted from different research expeditions since the late 1960s.

Additional Information:

Species, habitats and Maps: several papers and reports (Santos et al., 1995. Aquat. Conserv. Mar. Freshw. Ecosyst, 5: 311-354.; Morton et al., 1998; and references therein); General bibliography: Santos et al., 1995. Aquat. Conserv. Fresh. Mar. Eco, , 5: 311-354.