Site details

(lookup in gazetteer)
Flag of Portugal
5 stars - Fully protected as a national park or Natura 2000 site by national legislation
Normal Focal Site

Map type: Google Maps  SVG (dynamic)  Image (static)

South view of Corvo Island. Photo: F Cardigos (ImagDOP)

Synoptic description of site:

The smallest island of the archipelago (17km2). Supporting the less altered coastal marine environment and only 400 inhabitants, it represents the best opportunity for Integrated Management at the community level.

Extensive description of site:

Corvo is the smallest island of the archipelago (17km2) and it holds only 400 inhabitants. It represents the best opportunity for Integrated Management at the community level. Coastal habitats and resources are considered to be the least altered and exploited by anthropogenic activities in the archipelago. The seabed around the island drops steeply to around 50-100m and then more gradually down to 500m approximately one nautical mile from the shore. Littoral and sublittoral rocky and sandy habitats are very diverse, including vast irregular lava flows, caves and small pinnacles close to shore.

Habitats present:
Littoral X 
Sublittoral XX
Seagrass beds 

Description of fauna and flora:

The bedrock reefs on the southeast coast are the richest areas for marine life around the island. Large gullies several metres wide and up to 20m deep lie perpendicular to the shore. The main biotope below 15m is characterised by Zonaria tournefortii with sponges on the overhangs and Pinna rudis growing out of the crevices. The fish fauna is very rich with large individuals of Epinephelus marginatus as well as an abundance of typical shore species such as Sparisoma cretense, Phycis phycis, Muraena spp., Serranus atricauda, Scorpaena spp., Abudefduf luridus and Chromis limbata.

Pristiness: High


Coastal habitats and resources considered being the least altered and exploited by anthropogenic activities in the archipelago. Little artisanal fishing pressure and marginal anthropogenic pollution inputs.

Human impact:

There is little artisanal fishing pressure and negligible anthropogenic pollution inputs.


Research is to be supported by an Interpretation and Research Centre for the MPA (including small lab facilities and boat). The island is served by regular flights and has a small but operational harbour for small to medium-sized ships.


Commitment and ongoing research:

The Department of Oceanography and Fisheries of the University of the Azores is strongly committed to the development of marine research in Corvo Island. Several papers and reports dealing with algae, benthic invertebrates, fish, seabirds and cetaceans have been published or in preparation, resulting from the University expeditions during the last decade. Other papers deal with exploitation and conservation aspects.

Additional Information:

Species and Habitats: MARÉ (EU - LIFE98NAT/P/5275) Technical Proposal for the Management of the Marine SAC of Corvo. DOP (in progress). CLIPE (PRAXIS XXI - 3/3.2/EMG/1957/95) Final Report, DOP (Horta – 2000). Several papers and reports (Santos et al., 1995. Aquat. Conserv. Mar. Freshw. Ecosyst., 5: 311-354.; Morton et al., 1998; and references therein); (under construction) Maps and photos: formigas/formigas.htm General bibliography: Santos et al., 1995. Aquat. Conserv. Mar. Freshw. Ecosyst. 5: 311-354.; (under construction)