Once again, the Audouin’s gull (Larus audouinii) has chosen the salt ponds of San Pedro del Pinatar as its breeding area, making this Regional Park one of the main refuges for this endemic Mediterranean species. It is one of the rarest and most endangered seagulls in the world, whose scarce population in the ’80s were confined to small islands in the Mediterranean sea. The world population has now recovered and stabilised at around 22,000 breeding pairs, being the majority of the world’s breeding population along the east coast of the Iberian Peninsula in places such as the salt ponds of San Pedro (habitat of the only colony in the Region of Murcia). In the recent census done by the University of Murcia in the wildlife monitoring works in LIFE Salinas, a total of 385 nests have been recorded, which is more than double than numbers in 2018. That is exactly why one of the most important objectives of LIFE-Salinas is to guarantee the preservation of this situation and, even more, to increase the nesting area by 17% (around 1,800 metres) through the construction of new nests with material from the salt flats.
Since 2010 the Audouin’s gull nests in this place, declared Special Protection Area for Birds (SPA). However, the number of breeding pairs has been decreasing in recent years, so numbers of this year are great news for the species. Among the possible causes of this decline is the competition with the yellow-legged gull (Larus michahellis) for food and nesting surface. The University of Murcia and the Asociación de Naturalistas del Sureste (ANSE) monitor this and other waterfowl and study their long-term evolution. Salinera Española S.A. is in charge of the adaptation of these new salt flecks that will extend the habitat for the Audouin’s gull and other aquatic birds. In addition, Salinera Española will work so as to improve the condition of the Coterillo pond that, in turn, will increase the biodiversity and food availability for the Audouin’s gull, as well as improve the population of the endemic Iberian fish Fartet (Aphanius Iberus).