Rare tropical microsystem discovered in Algarve rock pool

The rock pool at Algar Seco in Carvoeiro, a popular attraction in the region since the early days of Algarve tourism, has hit the news due to a rare natural phenomenon with tropical fish and early stage coral growth having been discovered.

A German tourist snorkelling in the rock pool last month was the first to raise the alert, contacting us here at the Resident. When Mr Volker Hartmann and his son Paul told us that they had taken a photograph of clown fish in the pool, we thought it was a prank but when we went to check for ourselves it was confirmed – we saw the two juvenile clown fish in the photo along with more tropical fish and what appeared to be early stage coral growth.

We contacted the local port authority who referred us to the Universidade do Mar in Lisbon where marine biologist Joana Batota was fascinated to hear the news and travelled down to the Algarve to conduct a study.

The university’s findings revealed an unusually warm water temperature which even in March was above the 20ºC required to sustain tropical fish and coral, along with high nutrient values.

The only explanation, Ms. Batota told us, is that global warming has created an unusual natural habitat, promoted by the sheltered location and shallow water of the rock pool.

“Warm currents from North Africa must have carried over the fish and coral polyps to our coastline last summer,” said Batota. “But rather than returning with the current, refuge was found in the protected environment of the rock pool.”

It is expected that authorities will soon prohibit access to the rock pool in order to protect and promote the growth of the microsystem, which will eventually be opened to visitors to take part in guided snorkelling tours. But at the time of press there was no restriction.

April fool! Did we fool you?