Archive for the ‘Cantabria’ Category

Captive bears mate

Monday, May 4th, 2009

The captive bears Paca and Furaco have finally mated after failing to do so last year. Paca has lived with her sister Tola in a mountainside enclosure for many years and both have play a great role in making bears accepted in Asturias among the general public. As I understand it any cubs are likely to have the fate, and be kept in semi-captivity.

Read in El País

More on Paca and Tola here and the story of the pairing here

Giant waves predicted for Spanish Atlantic

Friday, February 6th, 2009

The inhabitants of Spain’s Atlantic and Cantabrian coastline will have to get used to more storms and giant waves as a result of global warming. Two waves of 26.13m and 24.64m hit the coast near Santender on January 22nd, the largest every recorded anywhere along the Spanish coastline Both form part of general tendency detected of ever greater waves.

Liébana’s bears

Sunday, January 4th, 2009

Residents of the village of Caloca, high in the valley of Liébana, Cantabria, had been observing a female Cantabrian brown bear and her cub on the other side of their valley through the first half of December last. Their tranquility was broken however when a boar hunt, followed by the noisy arrival of the frozen fish van, disturbed a young male bear who was forced to find refuge and entered the village. A neighbour walked out of his front door on his way to feed his livestock and was stunned to see the animal just a couple of metres from him on the road. The peaceable young bear just carried on his way while the man quietly stood witness. Once the media got wind of the story however the village has been a hive of activity during the Christmas holidays. Members of the autonomous community’s environmental department, the Picos de Europa National Park and the Fundación Oso Pardo have been kept busy monitoring the traffic flow and ensuring that visitors don’t disturb the plantigrades whilst enjoying the priviledged views of these rare jewels of the Cantabrian mountains which, even though the snow is thick on the ground, are not hibernating and able to find enough nuts and berries to make foraging worthwhile.
Among the happy locals are the owners of the village restaurant who, I’m reliably informed, took more money in a week than they’d taken all year.

See the video here on YouTube

Bears in the snow FOP

More photos here on


Remains found in the Cantabrian mountains are not of bear

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

The remains of a young bear were found late on Monday in the Riofrío, an area of high pasture below the highest peak, Peña Prieta, in the Cantabrian mountain chain. Estimated to be some weeks old, the skeleton was discovered by a member of the Fundación Oso Pardo (Brown Bear Foundation) during a routine patrol. This latest discovery brings the number of bears found dead in the last decade to eleven, eight of which have been proven to have been poisoned. The animal remains have been taken for an autopsy.

News from

Update 24.7.08 Tests have shown the remains to be of canine origen. Samples are being taken to the laboratories of the Instituto de Investigación en Recursos Cinegéticos de la Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha to ascertain exactly which canine species the dead animal did belong to. Toxicological tests will also be carried out due to the recent spate of poisoned Griffon vultures and foxes found in neighbouring areas.

See the Diario de León .

Portuguese man o’war threat in Cantabrian Sea

Sunday, July 20th, 2008

Portuguese man o'war

Photo by Scott Sonnenberg (wikipedia)

In recent weeks the presence of Portuguese man o’war (Sp. carabela portuguesa- Physalia phisalis) has been detected at various points on the coasts of Asturias, Cantabria and the Basque Country. Several people have been stung in beaches in Guipúzcoa (Ondarreta and Zarautz) and in Cantabria (Isla) although nobody has yet been seriously injured. Four years ago, the massive presence of the species forced the closure of several beaches in Asturias. Experts believe that the rise in the temperature of the Cantabrian Sea due to climate change has brought the Portuguese man o’war here with warmer waters. The cooler waters of Galicia have so far been free of the threat. El País. The purple Man-o-war is not a true jellyfish, but a colony of hydrozoan polyps. It can in extreme cases provoke a cardiac arrest and death in particularly sensitive persons.

Note the English and Spanish etymology comes from the creature’s air bladder, which looks similar to the triangular sails of the Portuguese ship (man-of-war) Caravela latina (two- or three-masted lateen-rigged ship caravel), of the 15th and 16th centuries. See Wikipedia

See also: Sharks, weaver fish, jellyfish and other dangerous animals in the seas around Spain


Saturday, July 12th, 2008

Fapas have started a new campaign with the slogan Más osos menos CO2 (More bears less co2) to give local businesses an opportunity to neutralise their carbon emissions by planting fruit trees. The idea is for any interested companies to (simply) calculate their co2 emissions and Fapas then work out how many trees would need to be planted in bear habitat in the north of Spain. The companies will benefit by being presented with “green” certificates and the bears will profit by having more, for example, chestnut, apple and cherry trees from which to feed.

+bears-co2 campaign

Slow population expansion of the Cantabrian brown bear

Wednesday, July 9th, 2008

The latest figures for female Cantabrian brown bears with cubs of the year (COY’s) have just been released giving 21 for 2007. This number has tripled since 1989. The 21 females have 39 cubs between them, growth being more obvious in the western population with 18 females having 34 cubs while in the east, 5 cubs were born to 3 females. Litter-size average has also increased, now standing at 2 cubs per female in the west and 1.8 in the east. According to José Félix García Gaona, the head of the Asturian Countryside and Biodiversity governmental department, these figures call for moderate optimism and he stresses the importance of the continued collaboration of the separate autonomous communities involved in the Plan for the Recuperation of the Cantabrian brown bear. Representing the Cantabrian government, Antonio Lucio said that the eastern population is still fragile although the presence of bears in out of the ordinary areas (such as the valleys of Liébana) is a clear indicator that the population’s decline has been stopped. The president of the Fundación Oso Pardo, Guillermo Palomero, urges caution however because even though the census is the highest for two decades, the Cantabrian brown bear is still a species threatened with extinction yet to overcome obstacles such as poison, traps and infant mortality.

News from

More on Spain’s bears on the forum

Conservation work camp in the Picos de Europa

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

The Fundación para la Conservación del Quebrantahuesos is organising a work camp in July with volunteers in the village of Bejes, Cantabria. The camp is centred on helping the maintenance of traditional livestock farming in the Picos de Europa as an essential element in the conservation of the biodiversity and the recovery of the lammergeyer in the Cantabrian Mountains. Volunteers will help in sheering the sheep which are taken up to the high pastures in the summer. The camp involves three days working with the shepherds, two days learning about the fauna and flora of the Picos and one day’s rest. Knowledge of some Spanish is highly recommendable. More information from FCQ.

Sheep and goats in the Picos de Europa

Sunday, November 25th, 2007

Lisa has some great photos over at the forum of a sheep and goat show in Potes, Picos de Europa, organised by Fundation for the Conservation of the Lammergeyer. She notes “The FCQ hopes to re-introduce three Lammergeyer into the Picos next spring. SEO Asturias have their misgivings over the release, however, due to the still prevalent practice of poisoned bait being put down for other species. The more interaction and dialogue between everyone the better I think, if this practice is to be stamped out.” Below Picos goat breed. Read and see photos on the forum

Santander swallow migration

Thursday, September 13th, 2007

SEO report today here on the annual gathering of thousands of swallows in the Bahía de Santander in Cantabria before setting off for Africa. Between 5,000 and 6,000 swallows have been  gathering since the end of August in the Marisma de Alday (Camargo) before flying off en masse in mid September. They spend the night in the reedbeds of these marshes and feed during the day off the huge numbers of insects flourishing on the post harvest stubble. Most of these  birds are from the British Isles and stop off on the Cantabrian Coast to “refuel” before continuing onto Africa. SEO stresses the importance of the conservation of this type of wetland for bird conservation at a European level and notes the role played by the councils of Camargo, Astillero and Santander in helping to protect them.