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Mar Menor (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈmar meˈnor], "Minor sea") is a salty lagoon, in the southeast of the autonomous community of Murcia, in Spain. It separated from the Mediterranean sea by La Manga, a sandbar 22 kilometres (14 mi) in length and with a width ranging from 100 metres (330 ft) to 1,200 metres (3,900 ft).
It belongs to four municipalities: Cartagena, Los Alcázares, San Javier and San Pedro del Pinatar. It has a surface area of 135 square kilometres (52 sq mi). It has a perimeter of 59.51 square kilometres (22.98 sq mi). The warm and clear water is no more than 6 metres (20 ft) in depth. It was called "the largest swimming pool in the world", by famous swimmer and Hollywood actress Esther Williams.
First the Phoenicians and then the Moorish kings, chose this "small sea" as the site of their summer residences. Today, this area attracts all those who seek a quiet place to rest and relax. There are ideal weather conditions all year round.
Ecological importance of the Mar Menor
At the northern end there are salt marshes which include a wetland of international importance. This area is conserved as a natural park run by the local government. Its Spanish name is "Salinas y Arenales de San Pedro del Pinatar". The microbes that live in this coastal lagoon have been recently described. 
In 1994 the Mar Menor was on the Ramsar Convention list for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands. The Mar Menor is also part of a Specially Protected Area of Mediterranean Importance and is a Special Protection Area (ZEPA in Spanish) for bird life.
The Mar Menor was one of the top 100 finalists for 12 Treasures of Spain announced on 31 December 2007.
- Coastal Lagoons: Ecosystem Processes and Modeling for Sustainable Use and Development, eds. I. Ethem Gonenc; John P. Wolflin (Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2004), p. 392
- Isabel Rubio (ND). "Information about Mar Menor in English". Biodiversity in the Mar Menor and the Mediterranean. http://www.marmenormarmayor.es/English.html. Retrieved 12 October 2014.
- H.M. Conesa; F. J. Jiménez-Cárceles (21 June 2007). "The Mar Menor lagoon (SE Spain): A singular natural ecosystem threatened by human activities". National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17585948. Retrieved 12 October 2014.
- Ghai R, Hernandez CM, Picazo A, (2012). "Metagenomes of Mediterranean Coastal Lagoons". Scientific Reports 2. . http://www.nature.com/srep/2012/120703/srep00490/full/srep00490.html.