Protected species

Etang de Berre

The geographic and geological characteristics of the Étang de Berre and its surroundings explain the unique ecosystem of flora and fauna which make the lagoon a remarkable biotype by world standards and a biodiversity hotspot. The banks of the lagoon abound with rich biological areas, particularly the wetlands.

As a result, over 3,000 hectares around the Étang have been recognised as habitat for rich biodiversity, with a remarkable variety of fauna: 359 bird species, 53 mammal species including 16 species of bats, 19 species of reptiles, 9 taxons of amphibians, 135 butterfly species, 52 species of dragonflies and 74 species of grasshoppers, crickets and locusts (orthoptera).

The complex ecological system of Étang de Berre is also home to many endangered species of flora and fauna, some of which are endemic: the European eel (migratory fish), rock sea lavender (endemic coastline plant), the long-fingered bat, the south-western water vole (micromammal), south-west European nase (river fish) and the raft spider. 20,000 water birds have regularly chosen to take shelter in the Étang de Berre area since 1995, making it one of the most important sites in southern Europe for the protection and observation of birdlife.
 
This natural abundance has led to the creation of six protected zones of important biological value around the perimeter of the lagoon. Owned by the Conservatoire du Littoral, they cover a total area of 1,200 hectares: Domaine du Ranquet (78 ha), Étang de Bolmon (720 ha), Site la Poudrerie (117 ha), Site de la Petite Camargue (88 ha), Marais de la Tête noire (20 ha) and Site de l’étange du Pourra (157 ha).
Etang de Berre
Bird species are particularly observed in certain remarkable natural areas: the Étang de Berre coastline and the
Mediterranean coast, and several locations on the Canal de Caronte. Most of the hills and the urban areas have not yet been greatly investigated. More censuses would enable both greater understanding of the local biodiversity and more precise localisation of heritage species in the area with their populations and legal conservation status.
 

Remarkable species:

Wetland overwintering birdlife: black-necked grebe, great crested grebe, flamingo, Mediterranean gull, sandwich tern
Rupicolous and open-area species: European eagle-owl, peregrine falcon, crested lark
ocellated lizard, Spannish psammodromus lizard
helianthemum marifolium and ledifolium, ophrys aurelia, ophrys splendida, dwarf garlic, Mediterranean restharrow, Cretan cress, polygonum maritimum
  • Owl
  • Flamingo
  • Duck

Parc Marin de la Côte Bleue

Created in 1983, the marine park stretches over 15,000 hectares along the 28 kilometres of the Côte Bleue, from the Anse des Laurons in the west to the Pointe de Corbières in the east.   

The Parc Marin de la Côte Bleue manages all the artificial underwater reef along the coast and two completely protected marine reserves, one off Carry-le-Rouet (85 ha) and the other off Cap-Couronne (210 ha). 
Measures for development and managing the resource are the result of a constant exchange between governing bodies, local authorities, fishermen and fishing industry unions. 

The Parc Marin de la Côte Bleue was added to the Green List of Protected Areas on 24 November 2018, Union internationale pour la conservation. This label is given to protected areas which meet certain standards regarding the effectiveness of the local governance and management. 

Measures for development and managing the resource are the result of a constant exchange between governing bodies, local authorities, fishermen and fishing industry unions.

Immersion and artificial reefs

The role of a production reef is to attract, shelter and support fauna and flora. Over 2,500 m3 have been immersed on sea beds which were lacking natural habitats and are monitored regularly.
 
A protection reef serves as an obstacle for trawlers which drag nets over the seabed. They are placed along the area of the coast where this technique is banned, unlike fixed-net fishing. 300 such reefs protect the most fragile sea beds such as Posidonia seagrass meadows and coral rocks.
 
Studies of the Côte Bleue have made important contributions to our understanding of what is known as the “reserve effect”.
→ increase in numbers of species
→ increase in number and size of fish
→ regularity of sought-after species including corb, sea bream, dentex, bass and grouper
→ recolonisation of shallow sites and export to peripheral zones
  • Coral
  • Fish
  • Shoal of fish
 The sea beds of the Côte Bleue feature four different types of habitat.
 
POSIDONIA SEAGRASS MEADOWS are the most frequent found in the Mediterranean. The meadows cover approximately 1,050 hectares of the Côte Bleue. The long green stems of Posidonia seagrass shelter many species like pen shells. Posidonia seagrass is protected due to its importance for underwater life in the Mediterranean.
 
The CORALLIGENOUS habitat has a mineral appearance and is formed over time by layer upon layer of calcified seaweed. Many animals make their homes there, both inside and outside, including sea fans, formerly known as gorgonians.
 
Despite appearances SANDY ZONES are home to a multitude of species. They are not always easy to see, either because their colour is similar to the sandy bed or because they live buried or partially buried in the sand. But if you look carefully, you might see a sole, gobie or brittle star.
 
ROCKY ZONES are very diverse in shape including slopes, slabs or caves. With a very intense population of attached species, they are the preferred habitat of many animals.