Arcadia in Mallorca Students Visit Sa Dragonera Natural Park

By Purnell T. Cropper | July 13, 2010

Arcadia in Mallorca summer program students, accompanied by Program Director, Dr. Jaume Gelabert, recently participated in an excursion to Sa Dragonera Natural Park. The park is a small island just 800 meters away off the west coast of Mallorca. The island was privately owned and during the 1970s there were several projects to build hotels, a marina, and even a casino in the area.

Majorcans protested massively and many demonstrations ensued, requiring the government to stop such plans and protect the island. After long and intense negotiations, the Balearic government purchased the island in 1986 and a year later it was declared Protected Natural Area.

Since that day anyone can enjoy a visit to the park, which is free, and walk down the trails and photograph and observe the flora and fauna. The island is a natural haven for a particular kind of lizard, which abound. In fact, it is assumed that Sa Dragonera derives from the Catalan ´dragó´ (lizard), as it is by far and large the most characteristic animal of the area. Other species that call Sa Dragonera home are seagulls, sea hawks, rabbits,  and scorpions.

Sa Dragonera is also historically interesting as it served as a welcoming rest stop to the troops of King Jaume I, who, en route to reconquer Mallorca from the Moors, stopped there for a few days in late 1229.  Because of its mountainous territory, with many caves and small inlets, the island was also a haven for contraband during centuries, and as late as the 1950s, when due to the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War many goods were scarce.

Arcadia students were amazed of the coexistence of so many different species as well as their accessibility. Lizards and seagulls, in particular, are used to human visitors and do not shy away.  The group explored the island from North to South through the paths and visited the lighthouse on the northernmost tip (Far de Tramontana).