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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Vila Praia de Âncora, Litoral Norte, Portugal Photo:

Extensive description of site:

Litoral Norte is a 60 km streach of coast and adjacent sea that has been a Natura 2000 site since May of 2000. This coast includes three main estuaries (Minho, Lima and Cávado rivers), and has mostly a rocky bottom, with some sandy and muddy areas.

Habitats present:
Seagrass beds 

Description of fauna and flora:

The fauna and flora are still not very well documented, but there were some studies published in the XIX century and many others in the last century. Recently several projects have targeted the description of this site’s biodiversity, so new information is been produced and published.

Human impact:

The area is subjected to relatively low levels of pollution from the city of Viana do Castelo and its port (pop. 60 000) and other small coastal towns and from some agricultural run-off. It is subject to fishing by traditional methods and the water can be turbid due to sediments coming from rivers and a very hydrodynamic environment.


Facilities for marine biodiversity research are available, mainly in the Centre for Marine and Environmental Research in Porto, where some groups of researchers do their work in this area.

Available database and website:

There is no comprehensive species inventory but some species lists are available both in print format and on-line. Information on the existing data can be obtained from

Commitment and ongoing research:

The Centre for Marine and Environmental Research, and the Departments of Botany, Zoology and Aquatic Sciences from the University of Porto, undertake biodiversity-related research in the area. The site is protected under the Habitats Directive, and contains also a National Protected Landscape Area. Here the characterisation of the main marine communities is underway to expand the protected area to include the adjacent 2.5 miles of coastal waters.