The maritime rescue service says it has picked up 44 sub-Saharan African migrants that set off in a boat from the west coast of Africa in a bid to reach Spain.

The service said the 42 men and two women were taken to the port of Arguineguin in Spain's Canary Islands late Sunday after being rescued off the Western Sahara coast, some 100 nautical miles (200 kilometers) south of the islands.

The service said Monday it began the search for the boat after receiving a warning call from a non-government organization. The migrants were said to be in good health.

Thousands of migrants try to reach Spain each year either by attempting perilous sea journeys from the western Africa or across the Mediterranean Sea.