Wetlands

Despite the island’s small dimensions, Minorca contains a wide variety of Mediterranean habitats, one of which being the wetlands, defined as surface water such as lakes, streams or seasonal ponds. Most of these wetlands are located in the north, where the majority of land is impermeable, allowing the retention and channelling of water. The southern half of the island is generally made up of permeable terrain, allowing water to filter down through the earth. Below we outline several different classifications applicable to Minorca’s wetlands along with some examples of each; some areas show several of these characteristics.


LITTORAL WETLAND AREAS
- Lakes and littoral lagoons (often linked to littoral prairies): Albufera des Grau and the Bassa de Morella.
- Fresh water marshes and littoral prairies: Prat de Son Bou, Prat de Lluriac, Prat de Son Saura and the Prat de Bellavista.
- Ponds at the mouth of streams: Trebalúger, Algaiarens and Binimel·là.
- Salty and saltpetrous coastal prairies: generally linked to saltpans or bays, such as, the Port of Fornells.
INLAND MARSH AREAS
- Temporary inland ponds: Binissarmenya, Sa Mesquida, Sa Bassa Verda, etc.
- Stretches of permanent or seasonal streams: Torrent d’Algendar, Torrent des Pontarró, Torrent de Cala en Porter, etc.
ARTIFICIAL OR MODIFIED WETLAND AREAS
- Salt marshes: Salines de Mongofra, de Fornells and de la Concepció.
- Artificial ponds (quarries, clay excavations, water purification reservoirs, crop watering reservoirs, etc.): Es Clot des Guix, Basses de l’Arenal de Tirant, etc.
The source of water varies depending upon the type of wetland area. In marshes and flooded areas an important amount of water is obtained from streams, although underground sources of water are also a common source. The sea is the main water source at the salt marshes, while many temporary ponds are formed exclusively from rainfall collected in inland basins, with no access to the sea. These variations mean that Minorcan water masses change in appearance throughout the course of the year. The cycle passes from a layer of water in autumn, to an increase in green vegetation during winter, an explosion of flowers in the spring and they appear practically dry during summer.
Wetlands have changed over time. These ecosystems were once considered to provoke sicknesses, on occasions they were modified by drainage and in some cases, they completely disappeared. The wetlands were also used by prehistoric cultures, as was the case at Talayotic settlements close to the wetlands, and to provide livestock drinking water. In modern times, wetlands are considered natural habitats containing and generating ecological diversity, as well as forming an important part of Minorca’s landscape.

 
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