Del Estrecho, the Straits, sometimes called the Gibraltar Strait, only 14 miles wide at the narrowest point, separates two continents, Africa and Europe. It is also the meeting point of an ocean, the Atlantic, and a sea, the Mediterranean. Flora and fauna are conditioned by the proximity to Africa, the deep ocean currents and the prevailing winds that are funnelled by the Strait.
A natural monument, the Bolonia Sand Dune, provides a visual example of the power of the wind. Over 30 metres high this dune is constantly on the move, enveloping the coastal pines as it slowly edges its way inland. The beach at Bolonia is of fine, white, sand whilst the crisp, turquoise, frigid waters of the Atlantic, pound onto the shore in winter, and provide cool relief in the summer. Nearby Tarifa is known as the windy capital.
The Strait is also on a major migration route. Over 300 species of birds including the black stork, black vulture, golden eagle and Montagues harrier make their annual pilgrimage to Africa in the autumn and return in the spring. Their cousins, the Egyptian vulture, griffon vulture and peregrine falcon have made their permanent homes in the rocky outcrops and cliffs of the La Plata and San Bartolome mountains.
Offshore the constantly turbulent waters have created an underwater garden. Dense meadows of phanerogams and copses formed by red and brown seaweed provide a haven for a huge range of marine fauna some species of which, sponges, jellyfish molluscs and crustaceans are endemic to the Strait. The Strait itself is a migratory route for whales, dolphin, loggerhead turtles, porpoises, tuna and sharks. The tuna migration has been a commercially exploited phenomenon for hundreds of years.
Snorkelling, surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing are all available in this area. For those more interested in dry pursuits there is climbing and walking in the Sierra de San Bartolome and of course birdwatching at numerous sites on the coast.
Nick has lived and worked in Andalucia for over 20 years. He and his partner, Julie Evans, have travelled extensively and dug deep into the history and culture, producing authoritative articles on all aspects of the region. Nick has written four books about Andalucia and writes articles for other websites and blogs.
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