Areas of Action

Archipiélago Chinijo SAC

Scientific description

This space, located in the Macaronesian biogeographic region, includes the islets to the northwest of Lanzarote, La Graciosa and Alegranza, as well as an important coastal strip that covers the entire western flank of the Famara massif (Riscos de Famara) and the plains of Lomos Blancos, Sacominas and Costa Blanca. This entire complex constitutes an area of ​​exceptional landscape and natural value within the Canary Archipelago. The complex is located on a marine platform whosedepth does not exceed 200 meters that ends northwest of Alegranza. From a geological point of view, the Famara massif corresponds to Series I (old Lanzarote massif).

The landscape is characterized by the presence of notable volcanic buildings, such as La Caldera de Alegranza with a crater of 1.1 km in diameter and a height of 289 m. Originally they were a larger building, but suffered a long and intense dismantling as a result from erosion, until forming its current physiognomy. On the other side is the Famara Massif which runs for 23 km and reaches a height of 670 m in the Peñas del Chache, a point highlight of the island of Lanzarote. Also noteworthy are the lava fields in Alegranza, and the dunes such as those of La Graciosa, located to the north and southeast of the island.

The cliff is formed by the stacking of a multitude of ancient tabular basalts, among which pyroclastic and terrigenous deposits are interspersed, the latter frequently transformed into Almagres. In an area of ​​the escarpment, a river of more recent lavas can be seen, coming from the eruption from the nearby Corona volcano, less than 5,000 years ago. Although most of the lavas of this volcano spilled towards the East, a small flow drifted towards the Vega Chica gate, to the north of Gautifay, overflowing the edge and falling off the cliff. 

The volcanic landscape continues under the sea waters, the islets have a wide platform rocky, where there are many slopes, cornices, and some tunnel like the one that crosses the Roque del Este. By Detrital bottoms appear below the rocky bottoms, with sands of organic origin in some areas and bottoms of rhodoliths in others.

The biota that supports the bottoms of the archipelago is unique, both both in terms of its biodiversity and its biomass. So far 304 have been cataloged species of marine macroalgae, which represents 53.15% of the total flora of the Canary Archipelago and it is the area of ​​the Islands with the highest rate of diversity of macroalgae species. Highlights the presence of rare elements in the rest of the Archipelago, such as Meristotheca decumbens, Gloiocladia blomquisti, Leptofauchea brasiliensis, and Cryptonemia seminervis. the band of photophilous brown algae has here one of the best representations, reaching to the depth 30 m in some sectors (Roque del Este). This band together with the prairies of phanerogams marine or "sebadales" are very interesting communities because they are associated with many other plant and animal species.

The cliffs of Famara are a genetic center of flora with a high concentration of endemism (more than 60 spp.) with the presence of fifteen exclusive elements (including Atractylis arbuscula ssp. arbuscula, Helianthemum branwelliorum, Helianthemum gonzalezferreri, Convolvulus lopezsocasi, Plantago famarae, Pulicaria canariensis lanata or Orobanche gratiosa), 13 from Lanzarote and the islets, 24 from the eastern islands, 25 endemisms from the Canary Islands and 13 from Macaronesia. This supposes the presence of 80 Macaronesian endemisms, which represents more than 75% of the endemic flora of Lanzarote and up to 12% of the Canarian endemic flora. The islets do not seem to have unique specificities among the flora, except for the parasitic Orobanche gratiosa and the Alegranza garlic (Allium subhirsutum obtusitepalum), although there are species characteristic of the group of islets and of the north of Lanzarote (genera Limonium, Ononis, etc). This flora is composed mainly of herbaceous or shrubby species.

The invertebrate population is also very interesting, with species that are found at greater depths in other depths and that can be observed here by divers, as is the case of the fertile plain (Stichopathes gracilis), the gorgonian (Paramuricea grayi), the coral orange (Dendrophyllia ramea) and some colonies of black coral (Antipathes wollastoni) and gerardia (Gerardia savaglia). The fields of red (Leptogorgia ruberrima) and yellow (Leptogorgia viminalis) gorgonians are also well represented. There are also 14 species of terrestrial invertebrates endemic to the islets and the Canary shrew (Crocidura canariensis) also endemic.

The ichthyofauna of the islets has 228 species of fish, of which 38 are chondrichthyan or cartilaginous fish and 190 are osteichthyan or bony fish. There are coastal endemisms of the Canary Islands such as the caboso (Didogobius kochi) and Diplecogaster ctenocrypta. Macaronesian endemisms such as the black fula (Abudefduf luridus), the pejeperro (Bodianus scrofa), the rosemary (Centrolabrus trutta), the caboso (Chromogobius britoi), the bloodsucker (Lepadogaster zebrina), the caboso de los puddles (Mauligobius maderensis), the black moray eel (Muraena augusti) and the abade (Mycteroperca fusca). There are also other species that are scarce or rare in the rest of the Archipelago, such as the rosemary captain (Labrus bergylta), the baila (Dicentrarchus punctatus), the sea bass or sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax), and corvinato (Sciaena umbra), which are relatively frequent here.

This abundance is the food resource for numerous seabirds that have an exceptional diversity, especially in the islets that make up for birds a unique habitat that, due to its characteristics, is highly representative, where a dozen endangered birds live (falcons, storm-petrels, etc. ). Among them the white-breasted storm-petrel (Pelagodroma marina hypoleuca), which probably has its only breeding colony in the Canary Islands on the islet of Montaña Clara. The Cory's Shearwater (Calonectris diomedea borealis), which in Alegranza has the highest reproductive density in the Canary Islands and the national territory, the Lesser Shearwater (Puffinus assimilis baroli), also nests the Bulwer's petrel (Bulweria bulwerii bulwerii) and two other species of storm-petrel. But also on the coast of Lanzarote, where several pairs of falcons and ospreys nest. The same can be said for the plains north of Soo and its coastal shoals, the former with a good representation of steppe birds (Hubaram runner, lark, etc.), and the latter with populations of wading birds such as stone curlews, egrets, curlews, etc. Another group of birds present are the birds of prey, represented by the osprey (Pandion haliaetus), Eleanor's falcons (Falco eleonorae) and Barbary falcons (Falco pelegrinoides), the Egyptian vulture or guirre (Neophron percnopterus percnopterus) among others.

Among the mammals, the presence in Montaña Clara of the endemic Canarian shrew Crocidura canariensis is worth mentioning. Both the islets to the north of Lanzarote, as well as the Famara cliffs and the Jable plains, constitute outstanding geomorphological elements of great scenic beauty. To its geological importance must be added its biological importance with several threatened and protected species - some exclusive to this space -, and some natural features in a good state of conservation. Several human settlements are located within this space: two on the island of Graciosa, Caleta del Sebo and Pedro Barba; and another two in Lanzarote, La Caleta and the urbanization of Famara. Tourism in the area is concentrated in the latter, favored by the presence of the nearby Famara beach, although La Graciosa also has some activity of this type (in the summer, more than 200 visitors arrive daily). The visitor regulation measures, established through the corresponding planning of the Natural Park, allow the orderly development of the presence of visitors in the archipelago, without affecting the state of conservation of the natural components.