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Andalucian Wildlife & Sushi?
Article submitted by Stephen Daly
Stephen Daly, a Scot now settled near La Oliva, Barbate, offers a day's guiding all the year round - seeing the best birds and taking you to quality birding sites.

So, whether you are an old hand who simply can't get enough of them, or an outright beginner just wishing to learn more, there's no better way to enjoy the thrill of watching birds of prey.
Andalucian Bird Guides

You can contact him through his excellent website at www.andalucianguides.com or by phoning 956 432 316 or 647 713 641.

Andalucian Wildlife & Sushi?

The diverse of the Andalucian plant and animal life is astounding.
The diversity of the Andalucian plant and animal life is astounding.

The rich diversity of Andalucia’s nature offers travelers with an interest in the outdoors endless possibilities to take time to enjoy the colourful beauty of one of the richest areas in Europe. Andalucia’s geographical position and location opposite the shores of Morocco offers not only a wonderful climate, but also some of the most interesting and varied habitats to found in Spain.

The arid desert areas of the Cabo de Gata in the east of Andalucia, the peaks and ridge-tops of the Sierra Nevada reaching more than 12,000 feet, the wetlands and marshes of the Coto Doñana and the vast oak and pine forests of the south, huge salt lagoons, rich river estuaries, olive groves and meadows and dramatic sea cliffs with endless golden beaches and dunes gives us over 250 different species of birds, numerous mammals including Iberian lynx, mongoose, jennet, red and roe deer, otters, wild boar. There are butterflies, moths, wonderfully colourful beetles, dragonflies, a huge selection of amphibians, reptiles and fish as well as thousands of species of plants, trees and flowers including a rich selection of orchids.

Almadraba - the ancient tuna fishing method still used in Barbate, Cadiz.
Almadraba - the ancient tuna fishing method still used in Barbate, Cadiz.

I live and work in the province of Cadiz which literally sits on the end of the Iberian peninsular opposite Africa. The area is called the Costa de la Luz, which means the coast of light. Walking on the 8 mile long beach between Barbate and Zahara de los Atunes during the winter months, you may come across the occasional local, fishing with long rods and lines out into the Strait of Gibraltar - which of course changes from the Mediterranean Sea to the the Atlantic Ocean. Apart from the fishermen, you’ll probably be the only other person on the beach! In the evening the lights from Tangiers twinkle across the water and during clear days you can see the minarettes of the mosques standing high above the city.

Tuna fish – mainly Blue and Yellow Fin Tuna, are still hunted in late spring and summer off Tarifa, Zahara, Barbate and Conil, still using the traditional method called the “Almadraba”. The word “Almadraba” has obvious Arabic origins, like many of the place names in the south, and is a system of nets anchored to the sea-bed lying just off-shore on the animal’s migration route. This traditional fishing method goes back to Phoenician times – over 3000 years. In the past fish would be salted or air-dried and used throughout the year. Sadly the Atlantic Blue Fin Tuna is being over-fished and not nearly enough conservation is being done by governments to conserve stocks from Japanese boats that can be seen each year in the Port of Barbate waiting to buy as much tuna as they can, before processing these huge fish, freezing them and returning to the Pacific. The Sushi markets of the east creates an unatural demand on a dwindling species and high tuna prices tempt local Spanish fishermen to catch as many fish as they can during the short migration season. We’ve seen all this before, and Man’s learning abilities are sadly lacking in some areas!