News | 26 May 2022

Barcelona's beaches are home to a hundred species of fish, some of which are invasive


The details are reported in Barcelona City Council's Biodiversity Altas, which includes now information on the city's marine biodiversity thanks to citizen science initiatives coordinated by the ICM-CSIC.

Until now, the Atlas did not have information on the marine biodiversity of Barcelona's beaches / ICM-CSIC.
Until now, the Atlas did not have information on the marine biodiversity of Barcelona's beaches / ICM-CSIC.

According to Barcelona City Council's Biodiversity Altas, the city's beaches are home to around a hundred species of fish, including invasive species such as the Southern Sorella (Caranx crysos), which comes from the coasts of the eastern Atlantic (from Senegal to Angola) and the western Atlantic (from Nova Scotia to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean).

It also shelters protected species such as the seahorses Hippocampus hippocampus and H. gutulatus or the highly prized shi drum (Umbrina cirrosa), the grouper (Epinephelus marginatus) and the bluefish (Pomatomus saltatrix).

Until now, this Atlas did not have information on the marine biodiversity of Barcelona's beaches, but now it has been possible to incorporate this new layer of fish thanks to the data provided by the citizen science platform MINKA, led by the Institut de Ciències del Mar (ICM-CSIC) in Barcelona.

"We are very happy that marine biodiversity is finally represented in this Atlas of the City Council, and that this is thanks to citizen participation coordinated by the ICM-CSIC", celebrates Jaume Piera, coordinator of MINKA and researcher at the ICM-CSIC.

The official presentation of this new layer of information on the marine biodiversity of Barcelona's coastline will take place on 1 June at the ICM-CSIC in an event that will be attended by representatives of the administration and other companies and institutions from the public and private sectors.

The role of citizens

MINKA allows citizens to share their observations, which, once uploaded to this virtual platform, are validated by the researchers, made available to users and connected to databases as important as the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), which accumulates more than 2,000 million data on the presence and abundance of species from all over the world.

Specifically, the data corresponding to this new Atlas fish layer have been collected over the last four years thanks to two initiatives promoted within the framework of the MINKA project: UrbamarBio -co-led by the marine environmental education and outreach organization ‘Anèl-lides’ and the ICM-CSIC- and BioMARató -organised by the ICM-CSIC-. During these initiatives, the public took part in snorkelling and scuba diving trips, which enabled a large number of observations to be collected.

The fact that more than 100 different species of fish have been counted along the Barcelona coastline highlights the great work of the public. According to an article published in 2018, which compiled observations made during 7 years of underwater photography competitions by experienced users in other areas of the Catalan coastline such as the Medes Islands, Palamós, Arenys de Mar or Mataró, only 88 species of fish were identified.

All these observations have now been validated and are available to the scientific community. In the end, the aim is to help advance research, but also to improve management policies for some species, especially the most vulnerable ones.