Category Archives: FAUNA AND FLORA

The house of Nature: fauna and flora in “Parque Natural de Betancuria”

Just one week ago  the House of Nature opened in the town of Vega de Rio Palmas,, a space dedicated to the exhibition of fauna and flora wonders in the Natural Park of Betancuria in Fuerteventura.

This house, built on the ruins of an ancient majorera house, is owned by the German Reiner Loos, who has been living in Fuerteventura for 20 years, and has managed to give a touch of fantasy to this place, raising a rustic-style building with lots of vegetation and gardens, and with a restaurant for visitors to rest, if they come from the path SL FV 27 (Barranco de las Penitas-Vega de Rio Palmas), enjoying the majestic views of Betancuria mountains.

Fuertecharter | fauna y flora Parque Natural Betancuria

In this House of Nature you find a really modern exhibition hall, where visitors can discover some of the unique fauna and flora in the Natural Park of Betancuria.

Fuertecharter | fauna y flora Parque Natural Betancuria

This park became a National Park in 1987, and in 1994 it also became a Rural Park, the “Natural Monument of Ajuy”being then included in their confines.  It is also a ZEPA  area (Special Protection Area for birds).

The Park includes the area in the west-central sector of the island, covering an area of ​​16,544.3 hectares in the municipalities of Betancuria, Antigua, Puerto del Rosario, Pájara and Tuineje (as you can see in the picture below).

Fuertecharter | fauna y flora Parque Natural Betancuria

This area corresponds to the basal outcrop in Fuerteventura, and it also presents sub-aerial volcanic series, so the colour and structural peculiarities of this area are stunning. There are moderate mounds that intermingle with U-shaped deep ravines. The most prominent peaks of this massif are Morro Jana (764 m), Gran Montaña (708 m), Morro de la Cruz (676 m) and Morro Velosa (669 m), major mountains considering the island scenario.

The existence of mountains and canyons are participant of the great variety of vegetation that exists, many of these rock plants being considered as endangered and protected species.

You can find there endemic species from Fuerteventura , but also from The Canary Islands and the whole of Macaronesia. In lower areas we find a blanket of sparse grass, with few trees and many shrubs, mainly sweet spurge (Euphorbia balsamifera), “cuernúa” (Caralluma buchardii), “ jorjao” (Nauplius asteriscus seiceus), gorse (Launaea arborescens is given ), the cactus (Euphorbia canariensis) and “salados” (Sarcocornia perennis). In ravine funds there are tamarisks (Tamarix canariensis and T. africanus), palm trees (Phoenix canariensis), reeds, rushes, etc. Among the introduced species the mime (Nicotiana glauca) stands out, as well as  the population of pine trees known as “Pinar de Betancuria”.

Fuertecharter | fauna y flora Parque Natural Betancuria

The same can be said about its wildlife, with great variety, especially on humid ravines and inland areas, where you can find native birds such as the  majorero vulture (Neophron percnopterus majorensis), the tit (Parus caeruleus degener) and the canary (Serinus canaria), and other migratory birds such as the marbled teal (Marmaronetta angustirostris) and the Ruddy Shelduck (Tadorna ferruginea).

Fuertecharter | fauna y flora Parque Natural Betancuria

The habitat that stands out is not only the mountain, but also The wetland in the dam of Las Peñitas , Los Molinos, and the coastal cliffs are of great importance. In these cliffs, specifically in the town and Ajuy, you can find important deposits of ancient remains, with ocean sediments and fossils of already extinguished marine animals. The waters in this part of the coast are inhabited by species such as the whale shark, sea turtle, swordfish, sparidae, whales, rays…

Fuertecharter | fauna y flora Parque Natural Betancuria

Fuertecharter | fauna y flora Parque Natural Betancuria

In the House of Nature, visitors can enjoy an exhibition with photos, videos and information on these species of the Flora and Fauna in the Natural Park of Betancuria, besides a projection room where a multi-screen film is exhibited, which portrays the island in all four seasons.

Fuertecharter | fauna y flora Parque Natural Betancuria

Part of the exhibition hall is dedicated to ecological disasters that produced tar in the Galician coast (Prestige) as a protest to this industry and a rejection of the implementation of these platforms on the shores of our paradise.

Fuertecharter | fauna y flora Parque Natural Betancuria

Fuertecharter | fauna y flora Parque Natural Betancuria

Hours: 10 to 17h. Closed on Tuesday.

FuerteCharter Team

Fuerteventura, paradise for birds: The Ruddy Shelduck


As you know every day we depart from Corralejo pier for our catamaran excursion to Isla de Lobos, a magnificent tour in which  we don’t only enjoy the wonders of the sea but also of the wonders of the sky, since they are many the birds flying over us in this beautiful island of Fuerteventura.

For several months we have been lucky to see, more and more often, some birds that look like geese; they even honk like them and we usually see them in couple. This is the Ruddy Shelduck or Tadorna ferruginea, which is a species of bird from the Anatidae family, fairly widespread in Asia and North Africa.
We can boast of  Fuerteventura currently having the largest population of Ruddy Shelduck in Spain. Although in the past they used to spend the winter in the peninsula and sometimes nest in Andalusia, they currently nest exclusively on our island.

FuerteCharter Excursiones Fuerteventura | birds: The Ruddy Shelduck

© Ricardo Herranz

Description:


Common name: Ruddy Shelduck
Scientific name: Tadorna ferruginea
Weight: 1.3-1.6 kg.
Size: 61-67 cm. long.
Wingspan: 110-135cm

As we have already discussed, The Ruddy Shelduck looks like the goose, with long neck and legs. Its head is cream whereas its tail is black with black wings except  at the front, which is white above and below; its body is reddish tan. The male has a narrow black necklace and the female stands out  because its face mask is more prominent.
Where do they live?
In Fuerteventura they live in the wetlands and the ponds inland, these shallow waters being their favourite breeding areas, so they can graze on their edges. It is really common to see couples in the ponds in Los Molinos, Catalina Garcia (Tuineje), and La Rosa del Taro (Puerto del Rosario) … these wetlands have become nurseries for the raising of chickens after the breeding season, which started between January and February.


Feeding

They feed on stems and  alfalfa sprouts, seeds and typical dry-land insects, as well as worms in wetter soils. They usually eat at dusk and dawn.


Breeding

They usually lay between 8 and 10 eggs which are incubated by the female about 28 days, while the male defends and doesn’t go too far  away. They lay an egg per day and they begin to incubate them once the clutch has finished. When they are born they are able to feed rapidly ; even so, the couple still protects them and devotes about 55 days of care, until they can fend for themselves.
The first couple to arrive  in Fuerteventura was in year 94 and experts believe they did  in a natural way; currently we are believed to have a population of over 300 specimens.
Although it is a migratory species and there were periods in which they totally disappeared from the island, probably because they went to the wetlands in North Africa, it is now common to see them throughout the year, probably because this island is not very crowded and has wetlands similar to the African ones.  Surely this year is more common to see them and its population has grown as this autumn has been rich in water.

Despite boasting of population we must not forget that men and their lifestyle are a major threat to this species as they are responsible for the destruction of their habitat and, specifically in Fuerteventura, the extraction of water from ponds for irrigation. Also poaching and the plundering of nests are circumstances that threaten this species.

The Ruddy Shelduck is included in “El libro Rojo de las Aves de España” as “critically endangered species”  and it is listed in the category “Of special interest” in “El Catálogo Nacional de Especies Amenazadas”.
From FuerteCharter we’ll keep enjoying these couples we see from our catamaran in our daily excursions from Corralejo to the wild and unspoiled islet of Lobos.


FuerteCharter Team

Common Octopus: blue blood in the waters of Fuerteventura

Cover photo: © M.Brekkevold

The most elusive cephalopod Mollusc in the waters of the Mediterranean and Eastern Atlantic, Octopus vulgaris, is one of the jewels that inhabits the rocky and sandy bottoms in Fuerteventura, up to a depth of 329 feet.

The word octopus comes from Latin polypus and literally it means “many feet.” It has 8 arms,  6 out of which have two rows of suckers which, according to scientific studies, are used to manipulate objects and prey and the two rear ones, to scroll through the rocks. The common octopus, unlike other Cephalopoda such as the squid, has no tentacles. Tentacles are long extensions, longer than  arms, which help them capture their prey. This is a good feature to differentiate octopus from squids, as squids, besides 8 arms, also have two tentacles.

As a means of locomotion octopus don’t only use their arms; they also have a ventral siphon that helps them swim very quickly by means of high-pressure water-jets.

Like all Cephalopoda, the common octopus has “blue blood” (instead of haemoglobin it has haemolymph, with atoms of copper instead of the iron that blood usually has. The copper oxide gives a bluish tint, while iron oxide is red ).

Its body is soft and without shell, which gives it great flexibility to change shape and the possibility to get into really small cavities.

The octopus skin is another feature that makes them unique beings,  with three types of pigment cells, one of them which causes their colour change, and two others that enable them to reflect and refract light so they can change colour very quickly. Presumably thanks to this they have managed to develop a complex communication system based on changes in colour and texture of the skin, expressing moods, which plays an important role when it comes to mating and also as a way of deterring predators, to which it also misleads by means of ink secretions.

The common octopus has three hearts (two of them which bring haemolymph or “blood” without oxygen to its gills and the third one which carries oxygenated haemolymph to its body) and nine  brains, eight small ones connected to each of its arms and one general one that coordinates all of them. This tuns it into the invertebrate with the most developed nervous system that exists. Its intelligence is comparable to that of some mammals, featuring memory and learning ability.

Fuertecharter | Common Octopus in Fuerteventura
©isaias Cruz

Its head usually measures around 10 inches, and its arms, around 40, although sometimes it can reach a total length of up to 10 feet. Its diet is mainly carnivorous, based on small fish, crustaceans and molluscs, which it crushes with its hardened beak-shaped jaw, similar to parrots’. It usually hunts at night and during the day it remains hidden in the hollows of the rocks.

Cannibalism is usual in this species, especially near the mating season, which usually takes place in spring and autumn, act that makes them be together momentarily as the rest of the time they are solitary animals.

The relationship between height and weight show positive allometry: males are heavier than females at a given size. Longevity in both sexes is usually 12 to 18 months.

The female protects the eggs they lay for 25-65 days. In this period it consistently beats the water to oxygenate it and it doesn’t eat, so many of them die when the eggs hatch. Once the eggs hatch, the offspring live as plankton for about two months, until they take the habit of living at the bottom.

Fuertecharter | Common Octopus in Fuerteventura
©oceanoecimat

Its delicious flavour has turned the octopus into one of the most popular dishes in Galician cuisine, which has spread to the rest of Spain the way of cooking it (after cooking, it is served sprinkled with paprika, cut into 1cm slices and with olive oil and coarse salt), and it’s a real attraction for tourists. This has led to overfishing in recent decades, which has resulted in a decrease in both the number and the size of the specimens.

In the waters off the coast of Fuerteventura and Lobos islet is often common to find  Octopus vulgaris specimens, hidden in puddles and among cliff cavities. In the snorkeling activity we carry out in our trips to the islet of Lobos it can sometimes be observed, though you have to look very carefully as this specimen is a master of camouflage and oversight, and it can vanish in front of our eyes behind a smoke bomb in the form of ink, as if it were a magic trick.

FuerteCharter Team

Wetlands in Fuerteventura and Isla de Lobos, sources of life

Despite the aridity that characterizes our paradise, Fuerteventura has several wetlands of great importance, but above all there is one that draws our attention particularly because we visit it on our daily excursions from Corralejo; this is known as “Las Lagunillas de la Isla de Lobos”.


But what is a wetland?

“A wetland is an area of land that is temporarily or permanently flooded, due to climatic factors, and in constant interaction with the creatures that inhabit it”. They are also “The areas of marsh, fen, peat-land or water surfaces, either natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water whose depth at low tide does not exceed six meters. ” Ramsar Convention.

FuerteCharter Excursiones Fuerteventura | Humedales

Fuerteventura Wetlands

On our island, because it is a semi-arid area, wetlands are critical to the survival of both plants and animals, especially some birds we have so much discussed in this blog. As we have told you many times, hundreds of birds find in the wetlands of Fuerteventura the ideal shelter to spend the winter, rest or carry out important tasks such as breeding.

Ramsar Convention

Since 1971 the Ramsar Convention has been an international instrument for the protection of these important ecosystems. In 1982 this Convention is enforced in Spain with the inclusion of Doñana National Park and “Tablas de Daimiel” as wetlands, and in 2002, what had been a marginal area in Fuerteventura, annexed to the beaches, “El Saladar de Jandia”, was included, thus becoming a main place in the work of restoration of biodiversity in the island. This wetland covers an area of 1,270,000 m2 and so far it’s the only one in the Canary Islands which has been included in the Ramsar Convention.

FuerteCharter Excursiones Fuerteventura | Humedales

Most characteristic wetlands in Fuerteventura

But as we mentioned, Fuerteventura has important wetlands scattered throughout the territory and whose visit is a must for bird lovers that visit us year after year; this year with the “abundant” rain falls in January the wetlands are even more resplendent.
The best known: “El Barranco y La Presa de los Molinos” and “Las Fuentes de Chupadero” in Matilla (Puerto del Rosario), “ Las charcas de Rosa” belonging to Catalina Garcia (Tuineje), “La Presa de Las Peñitas” and “El Barranco de El Junquillo” (Betancuria).

One of our favourite wetlands, which we visit daily on our trips from Fuerteventura to Lobos island, is known as “Las Lagunillas del islote de Lobos”. It’s a salt marsh near the coast which is affected by the tide flow; the sea water is retained there and ponds or lagoons are formed; they’re parallel to the coast, which allows the settlement of endemic plant species and also some of the least representative plants in of our archipelago. All these species have in common their adaptation to high salinity conditions.

FuerteCharter Excursiones Fuerteventura | Humedales

Major wetland birds settled in Fuerteventura:

Ruddy Shelduck (Tadorna ferruginea), the coot (Fulica atra), the common stilt (Himantopus himantopus), the Kentish plover (Charadrius alexandrinus), the sanderling (Calidris alba), Common Sandpiper (Actitits hypoleucos), the marbled teal (Marmaronetta angustirostris), Eurasian Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia), little egret (Egretta garzetta), gray heron (Ardea cinerea), clear redshank (Tringa nebularia), Ruddy turnstone (Arenaria interpres), the whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus )

The vegetation that stands out in the wetlands of Fuerteventura:

Halophytic vegetation formed by “el mato” (Sarcocornia fructicosa), Shrubby sea-blite (Suaeda vera) and “la uvilla” (Zygophyllum fontanessii); the reed (Phragmites australis), “el tarajal” (Tamarix sp.), the sea lavender from Lobos (Limonium bollei) endemic to the island. They are plants adapted to high salt conditions, even resisting periodic seawater floods.

Need for conservation and protection

We must not forget that they are ecosystems very threatened by myriad factors, particularly construction; we must work for their preservation, as they are true sources of life and biodiversity.
The Ministry of Environment of Fuerteventura Council, from its different departments-biodiversity, environmental education … – is developing activities for the protection and preservation of these habitats, among which fencing, placement of informative posters and performing activities such as visits to different wetlands stand out, as they depart from the idea that preservation and protection begin with knowledge of the values we have in the island.

World Wetlands Day, February 2nd

Every February 2nd the signing of Ramsar Convention is commemorated, this day being the World Wetlands Day.
From the Council they organize school visits to the different wetlands in Fuerteventura, so as to raise awareness and educate.
We invite you to celebrate this day, and of course to come and know some of these wetlands in our island, which so much surprise our tourists, as they don’t expect to find water sources within this land, so especially arid.
Of course, as our mission is to present this wonderful wild and virgin stronghold which the Islet of Lobos is, where we go on our daily trips around Fuerteventura, we can not deny that the salt marsh known as “Las Lagunitas” is our favourite, and the one we most highly recommend.

FuerteCharter Team

EL guirre, tesoro de la fauna de Fuerteventura

El guirre, junto a la hubara, es el representante más emblemático de la fauna de Fuerteventura.  Este alimoche canario habitaba históricamente y de manera regular varias de las Islas Canarias pero por diferentes causas, sobre todo el aumento poblacional y turístico, en las últimas décadas sólo habita Fuerteventura.

 Foto- Augusto Arbelo
Foto- Augusto Arbelo


Los buitres, que llegaron a las islas Canarias hace tan sólo 2.500 años siguiendo los rebaños de cabras de los primeros aborígenes que llegaron el archipiélago, han evolucionado de forma distinta a sus vecinos continentales, llegando a constituir por si mismos una subespecie endémica diferente a cualquier otra conocida, llamada majorensis en honor a Fuerteventura (Maxorata), la única isla donde en la actualidad sobrevive este pequeño buitre.

El nombre de Guirre, de origen guanche,  denomina en Canarias al Alimoche común (Neophron percnopterus). Fuerteventura alberga la población más meridional en la Unión Europea y la única perteneciente a la subespecie canaria (Neophron percnopterus majorensis).  Es la única ave carroñera que habita en las islas limpiando el campo de animales muertos lo que es beneficioso para el hombre.  Aunque se trata de un ave básicamente migratoria podemos presumir de que Fuerteventura es uno de los pocos lugares del mundo donde su población es sedentaria.

El Guirre es un ave de gran tamaño, casi 1,65 metros de envergadura, una altura de 70 centímetros y unos 2 kilos de peso.  A partir de enero  comienzan a ocupar sus territorios de cría para en abril poner por lo general 2 huevos, que incubará la pareja unos 42 días. Solo suele sobrevivir un pollo (el primero que nace) que tardará unos 75 días en emprender el vuelo e independizarse de sus padres.

El Guirre es una especie considerada EN PELIGRO DE EXTINCIÓN y su conservación es todo un reto.

PROYECTO SALVAR EL GUIRRE

La Consejería de Medio Ambiente del Cabildo de Fuerteventura ha puesto en marcha un Plan de Acción para evitar que el Guirre desaparezca de la isla. El proyecto se vertebra en dos líneas: conservación e investigación.

• Con la primera se pretende aumentar la supervivencia de la especie y favorecer el número de pollos nacidos cada año. Se han preparado varios comederos donde ganaderos y personal de Medio Ambiente depositan restos de animales muertos.

• Paralelamente se desarrolla un amplio proyecto de investigación sobre el Guirre, en el que colabora la Estación Biológica de Doñana (CSIC). Con él se quiere elaborar un modelo demográfico que sirva para predecir la evolución futura de la especie, basado principalmente en el anillamiento con marcas especiales, censos, estudios genéticos y de hábitat

www.europapress.es
www.europapress.es

Hace unos 15 años se extinguieron las poblaciones que habitaban el resto de las islas quedando Fuerteventura como su último refugio. Actualmente se recupera en nuestra isla tras varios años de conservación.  El año 2014 ha sido un año exceltente en lo que al nacimiento de pollos se refiere que duplica a los de 2012 .

El guirre cruza la Bocaina hacia Lanzarote

Además ha cruzado el Estrecho de la Bocaina que tanto frecuentamos en nuestras excursiones desde Corralejo ya que en 2013 se detectaron varios ejemplares en la Isla de Lanzarote y el archipiélago Chinijo pudiendo estar haciendo una recuperación natural de sus antiguos territorios y donde se están formando nuevas parejas.

Actualmente en Fuerteventura contaremos con unos 250 ejemplares que vuelan libres por nuestros cielos y disfrutan de la aridez de esta isla esculpida por el viento. No es difícil ver estas impresionantes aves desde nuestras excursiones, lo difícil es levantar la mirada del mar —que tanto nos atrae por su belleza— para elevarla al cielo; prometemos estar atentos para que no se pierdan este regalo de la naturaleza que es el vuelo del guirre si quisiera acompañarnos en nuestras excursiones desde Corralejo hacia la Isla de Lobos.

Sphinx of Tabaibas: An exotic caterpillar in Fuerteventura’s wildlife


The Sphinx of Tabaibas (Hyles euphorbiae tithymali) belongs to the nocturnal lepidoptera (moth) endemic to the Canary Islands. It represents one of the 1,200 families that make up the order of the Sphingidae, and within the wildlife of Fuerteventura, despite not being one of its most extended inhabitants, its showy colourful body draws attention.

The name Sphinx of Tabaibas comes because their caterpillar lives precisely on these plants, both sweet Tabaiba (Euphorbia regis-jubae), and bitter Tabaiba (Euphorbia obtusifolia), which also serve as food for this herbivorous species that certainly prefers the tender tips and flowers, which they can devour in a few seconds.

Tabaibas venom is completely harmless to the caterpillar; on the contrary, it serves as biological ally, and it accumulates this venom in its body and keeps it even when the caterpillar becomes a moth, creating an unpleasant bitter taste in its predators, which will not try it in their life their again. Besides, they are able to regurgitate this poison, fluorescent green, when they feel attacked.

As a defence against its predators, mostly birds, it also has some spectacular electric colours throughout its entire body, with green, yellow and blue stripes, some black patterns shaped as eyes and a red spot on its head (the red, yellow and black are usually warning colours in nature). These colours that serve as defence, also turn it into one of the most showy species in the island, providing it an exotic attraction.

They are most commonly found from June to September, and a place where it’s most awesome to find it is in the Natural Park of the Dunes in Corralejo, where it leaves small marks on the golden sand, when moving between Tabaibas (simulating traces of tiny bikes ).

The adults of this species of fauna in Fuerteventura have nocturnal and crepuscular habits, hence it’s not easily to meet them, but sometimes they can be seen in daylight, especially those younger individuals.

They may be found in spring, making up showy groups on the leaves of the plants that will host them.

FuerteCharter | Fuerteventura: Sphinx of Tabaibas
© Aday P.

The size of the adult caterpillar can reach up to 15cm and, when it has run its course, it goes down from the Tabaibas and buries itself in the sand to start the chrysalis stage and become a pupa, which in turn will become a moth, not as beautiful and showy as the caterpillar, but large, with a wingspan of between 5’4 and 7 cms, which tuns it into one of the species of moths which best fly. Their wings move so fast that its fluttering produces a whistle like the one produced by the drone.

The colour ceases to be attractive to become a dark brown with some white patterns, although there are some species whose moth is black.

FuerteCharter | Fuerteventura: Sphinx of Tabaibas
© Aday P.

It features the longest proboscis of all moths; It is the organ that serves it as a drinking straw to suck nectar from tubular flowers. When it is not used, it’s rolled up under its head.

At the end of its life, the female moth lays about 8-10 greenish eggs, each of them becoming a showy caterpillar later on, thus starting the cycle of the species again.

If you  happen to find any of these caterpillars on your way, don’t be afraid of them, but don’t bother them either  if you do not want them to spit on you the Tabaibas’ venom. Just watch the wonder of nature, which is able to create such wonderful specimens.

 FuerteCharter Team

Tarabilla canaria (Saxicola dacotiae): especie endémica de Fuerteventura

Fotografía: © 2012 Tomás Crespo

Sin duda en nuestra isla de Fuerteventura contamos con una extensa fauna de aves, pero una de estas especies además es endémica de esta isla de las Canarias: la Tarabilla.

Este singular pájaro de la avifauna majorera tiene además la característica de ser la única especia que, siendo exclusiva de las Islas Canarias, solo habita en una de las islas, por este motivo, los majoreros deben sentirse orgullosos y tener un especial cuidado en la conservación de la misma. Hasta principios del siglo XX la Tarabilla habitaba también en los islotes de Alegranza y Montaña Clara, al norte de Lanzarote, Saxicola dacotiae murielae, pero en la actualidad solo se encuentra en Fuerteventura, Saxicola dacotiae dacotiae. El resto de aves endémicas de Canarias, como las dos palomas de laurisilva, el mosquitero canario y el pinzón azul, se distribuyen al menos en dos islas del territorio.

La Tarabilla canaria es un ave paseriforme de la familia Muscicapidae, que habita en terrenos secos y pedregosos. Posiblemente procede de la especie de Tarabilla común, evolucionada por su aislamiento en la isla, a la que llegaró hace unos dos millones de años, en el Pleistoceno.

Es un ave de tamaño pequeño, cuyo cuerpo recuerda al de un petirrojo pero más estilizado. Tiene unos colores contrastados, pardos, con la cabeza negruzca y la espalda y alas con listas blancas. Tiene una lista circular blanca, que le llega hasta detrás de los ojos. Los laterales del cuello también son blancos (en el caso del macho), al igual que el vientre. El pecho es anaranjado. La hembra presenta colores más apagados y la cabeza marrón con estrías.

FuerteCharter | Tarabilla Canaria Fuerteventura

Respecto al hábitat, es una especie muy fiel a su territorio, permaneciendo toda la vida en el mismo lugar, a no ser que ocurran acontecimientos de excepción, como por ejemplo el divorcio de su pareja, que suele darse en casos muy aislados, ya que también suele ser una especie muy fiel a su cónyuge.

Se encuentra en terrenos rocosos y en barrancos con vegetación, como pequeños palmerales y zonas con aulagas, aunque en ocasiones puede frecuentar espacios más abiertos y áridos, como el malpaís.

Para conseguir su alimento y el de sus polluelos, suelen colocarse en posaderos en lo alto de arbustos, desde donde tienen una vista privilegiada para lanzarse sobre pequeños invertebrados, y sobre estos posaderos constituyen verdaderos modelos para los aficionados al mundo de la fotografía de aves.

Suelen realizar dos puestas al año, con 4-5 huevos cada vez, que incuban durante 13 días.

Esta especie está catalogada en peligro de extinción y actualmente se cuenta con unos 13001700 ejemplares adultos, que van en disminución. Las principales causas de este peligro de extinción es el fuerte desarrollo turístico que ha sufrido su hábitat en las últimas décadas, debido a la construcción masiva de viviendas, hoteles, campos de golf… que han fragmentado y reducido su territorio. Por otro lado le afecta también el excesivo pastoreo de ganado caprino descontrolado y la introducción de especies como los gatos salvajes y las ratas negras, que depredan a sus polluelos.

Desde 1999 existe un plan de conservación para esta especie y, debido a su alta tasa de reproducción, es posible que se franquee la dificultad de su supervivencia si se tiene un poco de cuidado con su entorno.

El Equipo de FuerteCharter

“ MAJORERO” wall gecko, outstanding resident of Lobos Islet and Fuerteventura

We keep discovering Fuerteventura’s wildlife and Lobos Islet and although it seems that everything is about marine species and birds, we cannot forget an exceptional inhabitant of this paradise, a true symbol for these islands, The “Majorero” wall gecko (Tarentola angustimentalis). Perhaps those of you who do not inhabit these idyllic lands have not seen one yet, but for sure they known it though  countless souvenirs that can be found in the island’s shops. It is a very abundant and well known animal, in fact the residents in the North of Fuerteventura usually feel proud to have one of these companions on the walls of our homes. In our boat trips from Corralejo, when we take our travellers to know the wonderful Lobos Islet in our Water Taxi, you will have the chance to to watch them: you just have to pay a little attention to the rocks in the sandy areas, where they are usually sunbathing in the mornings.

perenquen-majorero-©sargantanesidragons.blogspot.com
©sargantanesidragons.blogspot.com

Let’s learn a little more about this species, endemic to Fuerteventura and Lobos Islet. The “Majorero” wall gecko, or common gecko, is a reptile lizard from the geckos family, which is named after the roughness, flaking or bumps on the dorsal areas of its body.  6 species inhabit The Canary Islands, 4 of which are endemic:  Tarentola delalandii (Common “Majorero” wall gecko), Tarentola gomerensis, Tarentola Boettgeri (with two subspecies, one of them endemic to El Hierro) and Tarentola angustimentalis, in addition to the foreign Tarentola mauritanica (common gecko) and the  Hemidactylus turcius (Pink gecko).

The “Majorero” wall gecko (Tarentola angustimentalis ) is a species found in Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, Lobos, La Graciosa, Montaña Clara, Alegranza, Roque del Este and Roque del Oeste. For a time it was called  Tarentola mauritanica angustimentalis  as a subspecies of the Tarentola mauritanica, but now it’s considered a different species in itself, Tarentola Angustimentalis.

They can live on the coast and on the summits, being more abundant in thermophilic and tabaibal-cardonal, sandy  and old “malpaís” areas, as well as on human constructions; it usually lives under rocks or rocky places. As far as its social behaviour is concerned, they are nocturnal, although they love sunbathing in the mornings; it is known that acoustic communication plays an important role for them.

They feed on insects, arthropods are their favourite, but as a curiosity, they sometimes eat their own molt.
They are, at first sight, very funny; males are an average of 7.5 cm and females, 6.5 cm. Their body is robust and crushed. As most geckos, their skin is covered with bumps, except in the centre of their back, where they have a protruding bone. Their colour is light grey with a clear longitudinal line and five transversal dark bands. Their eyes, as you can see in the photos, are very prominent, golden or brown colour. It’s their eyes and hands, crushed but sturdy, which make them so funny.

Not much is known about their breeding habits: they lay about 1-2 eggs and apparently they have two clutches per year. The sex of the embryo depends on the incubation temperature: under 27º and 30 º they will be female, while under  26.5 ° C and  22,4ºC they will be male.

And though they are tiny they have a life expectancy of about 17 years.

This insect predator is endemic to the eastern Canary Islands and, usually,  an abundant species, not threatened by human impact; until now no factors that may affect them severely have been detected, so we will have “majorero” geckos for a long time.

Let’s say that in our trips to Lobos Islet from Corralejo, on our Catamaran, this will not be the animal you will see most if you don’t pay attention, but we could not help giving it the prominence it deserves as it is a symbol which has become a souvenir for those who choose this paradise as a holiday destination. Still we hope that when you come to Lobos Islet you won’t forget that this is their home and, like us, they love to enjoy the sunshine on the beautiful sunny mornings which cheer up this area of “La Macaronesia”.

 

FuerteCharter Team

Marine Fauna of Fuerteventura: The Porbeable or Mako shark

Among the inhabitants of the coast of Fuerteventura we have a species of exceptional shark: the mako shark (Isurus oxyrinchus), known in the islands as “Janequin”. It belongs to the same family as the white shark, but it’s smaller and it tends to live further away from coastal waters.

It is a migratory fish that can be found in our waters in spring and summer when the water is warmer.
This cartilaginous fish has a sturdy, solid and fusiform body, which provides its perfect hydrodynamics, allowing it to swim at high speeds that can exceed 90km / h. This is also due to the fact that it’s a warm-blooded species, keeping the same body temperature, regardless of the external one, which allows it to make sharp outbursts and big jumps, up to 3 ms high, since its muscle power triples and so does its ability to react. For this reason they are chased by sport fishermen, since they are very combative and powerful rivals.
It is an avid hunter that prefers the evening hours for its activity. It feeds on fish such as sardines, herring, mackerel, bonito, skipjacks … and other larger ones like tuna, swordfish, and even marlin and sailfish. It also eats squid, other sharks, sea turtles, dolphins and even small cetaceans. As a curiosity confirming its greed, it has even been found a 300 kg mako shark carrying a 55kg swordfish inside. Its only predator is the white shark, which fortunately does not frequent our waters, being too cold for it.
It is considered a dangerous species, although in The Canary Islands there are record of just a few attacks on people, and it usually inhabits the pelagic realm, although it sometimes approaches the coast in search of food. Still, we recommend extreme caution in case of meeting one, especially regarding spear fishing.
The Mako shark has two dorsal fins, one large fin and one smaller one,  and 5 gill slits on each side of the large u-shaped mouth; it has a pointed snout and sharp teeth. Its eyes are black, round and medium size.
He has a dark blue back, almost greyish, and white belly, and at the tip of the tail there is a crescent-shaped caudal fin, its upper lobe being slightly larger than the lower one, key for its perfect hydrodynamics.
They can be up to 400cm long (the female being larger than the male) and weigh up to 750kg; the size required to fish them is 290cm.
Mako sharks are ovoviviparous, female specimens being able to gestate up to 25 embryos, although litters are usually of 4-8 offspring, as the most developed ones eat their litter mates and the rest of eggs in an act of cannibalism called oophagy.
Regarding its commercialization, being such a big fish it’s sold in slices. Its fin is used to make soup, as well as its liver, from which oils rich in vitamin A and Omega 3 are also extracted. Its flesh is often mistaken with that of grouper and swordfish.

In our boat trips from Corralejo to the islet of Lobos, we go cross the area known as “The Mako” often visited by scuba divers, where it is sometimes possible to find some of these majestic specimens.

We invite you to discover the charms of our ocean on our catamaran.

FuerteCharter team


Sweet Spurge endemic to the Canary Islands, had an infinity of uses for ancient inhabitants


We continue writing about Lobos Islet, since we love to present the wonders of the Canary archipelago, especially this islet where we go regularly on our trips from Corralejo.

This time we will dedicate the article to talk about a very characteristic species of flora in this islet. 
Out of over 130 plant species living in this islet nowadays,  we will talk about the sweet spurge (Euphorbia balsamifera),  very characteristic of the Canary Islands and a symbol, particularly in the island of Lanzarote, which stands out in the islet with magnificent specimens. Remember that the jewel of the flora in Lobos is The Evergreen,  endemic to this island,  of which we have already discussed in another article that we recommend.

tabaiba-fuerteventura
Spurge

In the Canary Islands we call Spurge to a large group of plants of the Euphorbia family. Here in Fuerteventura, we enjoy the existence of  two species of spurge, sweet Spurge (Euphorbia balsamifera) and sour Spurge (Euphorbia regis-jubae).
In the Islet of Lobos it’s the sweet spurge which reaches a surprising size becoming very representative of the islet and being highly appreciated by visitors who accompany us on our trips from Corralejo.
It is endemic to the Canary Islands and North Africa. Especially we see it in the lower and drier areas of the islands.

tabaiba-fuerteventura
Description

It is a rounded shrub that can grow up to 2 meters; with grey stems highly branched from the base and rugged, as they are exposed to the wind.
It is a  “succulent” plant because its stem and root allow storage of water in much higher amounts than the rest of the plants, keeping their water for long periods, which allows them to survive in dry and arid environments.
It has rounded shape with branches that have small green leaves which they lose in dry periods but which recover when the rains start again; This is a mechanism that prevents water loss during periods of harsh sun.

It is just at this time of the year -autumn and winter, especially in days like the last ones, when the rain has cheered our island up, that we can enjoy their flowers. Small yellow flowers that form a unique reddish fruit which looks like knitted (tripartite structure).

Curiosities

In the chronicles of the ancient conquerors  they spoke about the milk from these plants found in Fuerteventura “… trees that exude a medicinal milk …” and which has been employed for many uses throughout history. uses:
As traditional fishing method (embroscar) that involves spilling the “cerote” (juice of the plant) into natural pools which can be seen during the low tide,  and where fish were trapped; This juice has poisonous properties that lulled the fish and made it easier to catch them with shovels.
-The Milky sap of the branches coagulates on contact with air to forms a kind of gum, and it’s said to have a nice flavour. This paste could be chewed to strengthen the gums; it was also used to wean kids, by sticking it to the udders of the goats; other uses, in times of extreme scarcity, could be as glue traps for birds.
Among its medicinal uses, it treated colds in the shape of poultices; pricks of thorns,  warts or wounds, by applying it straight on the skin.


All these uses,  together with the appearance of lime kilns in Fuerteventura,  made this sap become more scarce, since it was also used as fuel.
Currently the population of this plant is abundant and these days we can enjoy its green leaves, which have sprouted with the first rains. We invite you to come to Lobos in one of our trips from Corralejo to enjoy the magnitude of these plants, loved by the ancients for their properties  and characteristics of the Canary Islands and specifically of this islet that we love so much.

FuerteCharter Team