The Sisargas Islands are a very important sanctuary for seabirds, some of which are endangered species, and a stopover area for migratory birds. In fact, the archipelago has been designated as a Special Protection Area for Birds (SPA) within the Natura 2000 Network – Costa da Morte Site of Community Importance (SCI). There are also plenty of endemic flora species, like several types of Armeria maritima that give the islands a distinctive pink colour during the summer flowering.
The importance of the Sisargas Islands lies in its colonies of Black-backed gulls (Larus fuscus), Kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla) and Caspian gulls (Larus cachinnans). The common guillemots (Uria aalge) were endemic of the islands, but after the oil spill caused by the Prestige oil tanker sinking in 2002, they use the Islands only as a stopover on their migratory path.
In the past, the Sisargas were home and even refuge to those who suffered reprisals during the post-war years after Spain’s civil war, but nowadays, it is only visited occasionally by percebeiros and lighthouse keepers for maintenance tasks.
Long ago, pirates arrived here as well. According to various historians, in the 16th century, the English pirate Francis Drake, destroyed the Santa Marina chapel, located close to the beach. In the 17th century, Malpica was ravaged by Turkish pirates who, together with the Dutch used ‘O Brance’ (the sea area in front of Isla Grande) as an inner harbour.