El Proìs de Candelaria: the cave of pirates!

La Palma Canary Proìs de Candelaria Tijarafe
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What to see in La Palma, Canary Islands

The Prois or Caves of Candelaria is a picturesque coastal enclave that stands out because of its beauty, historical and ethnographic interest and the great natural value of its surroundings. The sheer nature of this coast with 200 metre high walls is key to providing refuge to numerous marine birds like the Cory’s Shearwater, the common turn and the yellow-legged gull as also terrestrial species like the Barbary falcon and the fast disappearing osprey.

The small pools that are created during low tide are like miniature oceans, home to organisms typical to the shore as also to species that live at the depth of 200 metres. This includes species of starfish, anemones, crabs, snails, algae and fish, some of them juvenile forms of species of interest for the fishing industry. In addition, this area is also of special interest because of the presence of the Gelidium arbuscula and Cystoseira abies-marina, species of algae that now enjoy protected status because of the decline in their populations in past decades.

These escarpments continue underwater, creating a rocky seabed full of gullies and caves – the ideal habitat for species of sponges, coral and other invertebrates that are suited to dark environments. In addition, the areas of the seabed where light penetrates are rich in a variety of algae that act as food for the associated fauna. However, the presence of this mari-ne flora has been decreasing in recent years due to the imbalance created by the disappearance of key predatory species like the barred hagfish, roosterfish and zebra sea bream that keep populations of herbivores like sea urchins in check.

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