Site details

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4 stars - Protection pending but not yet approved by national legislation
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Common eagle ray - Myliobatis aquila (Linnaeus, 1758) Photo: L. Quinta - ImagDOP

Synoptic description of site:

Group of islets and very steep pinnacles, 1 to 5 km away from the shore.

Extensive description of site:

These are a group of islets on the South coast of Terceira island, 1 to 5 km away from the shore. Reef habitats support typical semi-offshore marine biodiversity. The site includes reefs, caves, boulder fields and sandy bottoms down to 120 m.

Habitats present:
Littoral  X
Sublittoral XX
Seagrass beds 

Description of fauna and flora:

Mobile organisms like nudibranchs (e.g. Hypselodoris picta azorica and Glossodoris edmunsi), crustaceans (e.g. Scyllarides latus and Maja capensis), fishes (e.g. Anthias anthias, Diplodus sargus cadenati and Epinephelus marginatus) and large pelagic fishes (e.g. Sphyraena viridensis and Seriola spp.) are present in the area. In the southern part of the western Ilhéu das Cabras there is a cave (locally known as “Gruta dos Ratões”) with high densities of Myliobatis aquila.

Human impact:

The area is not subjected to pollution. Artisanal fishing and tourism activities occur within the site.


There is one University Department that conducts research in the area, and that can serve as operational basis. Small vessels from several nearby harbours can easily access the area. The island is served by regular flights.


Commitment and ongoing research:

The area is important for the conservation of birds and presents shallow bottoms that still hold communities subject to low fishing pressure. The University station in Terceira island houses a small marine biology team which has conducted research on fish communities and marine ecology in general. A few papers and reports dealing mainly with fish and seabirds have been published, resulting from the University research. Other papers deal with exploitation and conservation aspects.

Additional Information:

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. Ecos. 5: 311-354.