Marine life of the Canary Islands
The marine life found in the Canary Islands is diverse, being a combination of North Atlantic, Mediterranean, and endemic species. In recent years, the increasing popularity of both scuba diving and underwater photography have provided biologists with much new information on the marine life of the islands.
Fish species found in the islands include many species of shark, ray, moray eel, bream, jack, grunt, scorpionfish, triggerfish, grouper, goby, and blenny. In addition, there are many invertebrate species including octopus, cuttlefish, sponge, jellyfish, anemone, crab, mollusc, sea urchin, starfish, sea cucumber, and coral.
There are a total of 5 different species of marine turtle that are sighted periodically in the islands, the most common of these being the Loggerhead Turtle. The other four are the Green, Hawksbill, Leatherback, and Kemp's Ridley Turtle. Currently, there are no signs that any of these species breed in the islands, and so those seen in the water are usually migrating. However, it is believed that some of these species may have bred in the islands in the past, and there are records of several sightings of leatherback turtle on beaches in Fuerteventura, adding credibility to the theory.
By far the most commonly seen invertebrate in Canary Island waters, the Lime Urchin is, ecologically, a very important herbivore. Populations of these creatures have increased rapidly within recent years, primarily due to overfishing of their natural predators, such as starfish and Triton's trumpet.
In areas with many of these creatures, the seabed can become completely stripped of algae. As a response to this "ecological emergency", widespread culling of sea urchins has been advocated in some areas.
Marine mammals of the Canary Islands include the Short-Finned Pilot Whale, Common and Bottlenose dolphins. The Canary Islands were also formerly home to a population of the rarest pinniped in the world, the Mediterranean Monk Seal.
Marine life and tourism
Marine life (particularly whales and dolphins) are one of the main attractions of Tenerife and the other islands, generating jobs and letting tourists enjoy the marvelous sea life of the area.
- Tourism in the Canary Islands
- Canary Islands Network for Protected Natural Areas
- Geography of the Canary Islands
- Sergio Hanquet, Diving in Canaries, Litografía A. ROMERO, 2001. ISBN 84-932195-0-9
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