The history of salt is connected with the Canary Islands. It is know that the Canarian indigenous collected salt from the ponds and used it to preserve their food. Over the years, in The Canary Islands was started the construction of different salt mines. Salt become very important to the man who used it like bargaining chip; the salary was also paid with salt grains.
In the middle of the 16th century, it was built the first salt mines over the rocks. The process to obtain the salt was similar to the one used by the indigenous. They used the high tide and the water that kept in ponds was carried on buckets to the tanks (called cocederos). With stones and mud they built small pond (called mareta) where water was deposited and then it would evaporated. After a few days there only remained the salt.
It was in the mid 17th century when the use of salt was essential in the Canary Islands. It was built salt mines in the southwest of Gran Canaria, in Lanzarote and Fuerteventura.
The are of Janubio had an important role as a port in Lanzarote before the eruptions of 1730. It was the place chosen by lot of ships that came from other islands to load lime stones and cereal. When the eruptions happened, the lava closed the old gulf and let a small lagoon inside. The port disappeared and in 1985 started to built what today we know as the Janubio salt mines thanks to Vicente Lleó. This man gave them up to his nephew who finished them in 1945.
The Janubio salt mines have been always connected to fishing and the industry derived from it. However, the disappearance of fishing with the revolution of new technology to preserve food it has caused that the production of salt has strongly decreased.
The red colour of the salt mines it is due to a little red crustacean, the artemia salina, although there is also an alga responsible for it color, the Dunaliella salina.
The harvest of salt takes place from spring season to early autumn. In this period the sunshine is stronger and there is little risk of rain, so it let the crystallization and the collect the salt.
Since 1987 the Janubio salt mines are included in the Canary Islands Network for Protected Natural Areas (Red Canaria de Espacios Naturales Protegidos). First it was classify as Natural Space (Paraje Natural) and today it has the category of Site of Scientific Interest. Moreover, the Janubio salt mines were declared International Bird Are (IBA), it is mean that is an international importance area for birds, and also is a SPA (Special Protection Area) taking part of the Natura 2000 and of the Ramsar Convention about wetlands of the world.
It is an area of great interest both historical and faunal. Lot of ornithologists go to this area in the migration period to observe birds. It is a privilege area not only to see residen species but also migratory birds.