Category Archives: Fuerteventura

Five landscape jewels you must visit in Fuerteventura

Fuerteventura is a paradise that has endless attractions for tourists and residents. When one arrives in the island thinks of sun and beach tourism, but these Islands really have nature spots that are really worth visiting. We propose five natural jewels in Fuerteventura that you really can’t miss.

Natural park of dunes in Corralejo

As the name implies, it starts 8 kms from Corralejo, and finishes just at the village entrance. They who stay in Corralejo are lucky to find out these dunes, of impressive natural wealth, in their way from the airport to this village. One is amazed at the beauty of these dunes, the yellowish colour of their fine sand, the views to the islands of Lobos and Lanzarote. They aso stand out because of their scenic value, as they are a shelter for birds and endemic vegetable species in the Canary Islands, reason why they have been declared, together with the islet of Lobos, Special area for bird protection. Visiting these dunes is a true experience for the senses, not just because of their fine yellowish sand but also because of the water at their borders, the beaches of the eastern coast, with crystal clear blue water, so attractive that you’ll feel in paradise.

FuerteCharter excursiones | 5 joyas paisajísticas Fuerteventura

Lobos Island

It’s many the articles we have about this little paradise in The Canary Islands, a natural wild island capriciously shaped by the waters of the Atlantic, about 3,5 kms from Corralejo. It’s, no doubt, a must visit spot. It has a little port and fishing village, a volcano and a lighthouse. We recommend to devote at least one morning or afternoon to it, and the best way to enjoy its crystal clear waters is on our boat trips from Corralejo, where apart from enjoying the sea you’ll be able to go down to the island bay on a semi-rigid boat, stroll around this little islet and bathe in the cleanest and most placid waters in The Canary Islands. You can’t leave Fuerteventura without enjoying this island.

FuerteCharter excursiones | 5 joyas paisajísticas Fuerteventura

“Cofete” Beach

At the other side of the Island, in the western coast and in the south of Fuerteventura, you’ll find the longest beach in Europe and, probably, the least visited, which makes it even more natural and attractive. This beach takes up part of the Jandia peninsula, it’s about 12kms long and 50ms wide. It’s worthwhile to devote one day of your holiday to visit the most virgin of the beaches in The Canary Islands, an impressive place not just because of its dimensions but because of its wild appearance. Careful with the sea at that beach, there are usually strong currents. Apart from enjoying this magnificent beach you’ll be able to visit the Winter house and the little village of Cofete, whiich overlooks El Pico de la Zarza, the highest in Fuerteventura. If you are staying in the north of the island, investing a whole day on this spot is most recommendable.

FuerteCharter excursiones | 5 joyas paisajísticas Fuerteventura

“Las Peñitas” Ravine

This is the natural monument least well known by tourists, and for many it is one of the most interesting natural areas in Fuerteventura. This is a spectacular ravine, made up by huge granite blocks, holding one of the few dams in the island. It’s also the most important place to climb in Fuerteventura. If you like hiking we recommend to go to this ravine along a track connecting Vega del Rio Palmas with the town of Ajuy. In this ravine, apart from its great landscape value you’ll find a little hermitage, La Virgen de la Peña, where every year the most important pilgrimage in Fuerteventura is held. If you drive there you’ll have to go from Pájara to Ajuy and then you’ll find a diversion leading to the ravine, one of the most popular settings in the film Exodus.

FuerteCharter excursiones | 5 joyas paisajísticas Fuerteventura

Ajuy

In the western coast of Fuerteventura, in the rural park of Betancuria, we find the village of Ajuy, a little fishing village where you’ll find good restaurants with fresh fish. Its black sand beach reminds us of the volcanic past of this island. But the most popular spot in Ajuy are, no doubt, its caves, to which you can access through a path which starts at the very beach, easy to walk and wonderful because of the beautiful views of the western coast. Besides, this area is made up by the oldest stones in the whole Canary Islands. Another interesting fact t is that in these caves pirates and corsairs used to trade with all kinds of goods.

FuerteCharter excursiones | 5 joyas paisajísticas Fuerteventura
© visitfuerteventura.es

It’s many the natural monuments in Fuerteventura which turn it into a true paradise for visitors, but today we wanted to highlight these five ones. We’ll keep working to bring out the wonders of this little corner of La Macaronesia, which offers so many attractions.

FuerteCharter Team

Beaches sheltered from the wind at Fuerteventura

Fuerteventura, the quiet and apparently unchangeable island, has the characteristic stillness of the dry lands. A space of silent where time seems to stop to capture a landscape which is like a picture that one would like to scan.

Its heavenly beaches invite to relax and observe, to long days of sand and sun bathed in turquoise waters.

Fuertecharter | The wind in Fuerteventura
Los Canarios Beach, Fuerteventura. ©pepecar.com

But so that our sunbathing days are completely satisfactory we have to know and have one of the elements that best define the island on our side: the wind.

Few are the travellers who have visited Fuerteventura without knowing it, who haven’t had their cap blown away on the beach, that haven’t been beaten by the sand on their calves or haven’t looked for shelter from the wind in the “corralitos” of majorera beaches.

Many of their visitors come just looking for those air blasts so as to practise their favourite sports, like windsurf or kitesurf, or just to fly their kites and dye the sky with colours (in ancient times the wind provided a way of earning a living for many families, as it activated the windmills that ground grain); However, for those looking for peace and quiet we’ll suggest some beaches and advice so that their experience in Fuerteventura be unforgettable, even with wind.

Fuertecharter Fuerteventura | Wind and beaches in Fuerteventura
©blog.canariasviaja.com

The first thing to bear in mind is the wind direction. When the wind comes from the East it is more advisable to visit beaches on the West, and the other way around.

Wind barriers are also important, that is, looking for beaches which are sheltered from the wind direction by some barriers, either natural or built. So, for example in the Western coast we find impressive beaches at the mouths of ravines, which are usually beaches sheltered by high cliffs which stop the winds when they aren’t west winds.

Fuertecharter Fuerteventura | Wind and beaches in Fuerteventura
Squinzo’s Beach ©visitfuerteventura.es

They are usually beaches which are difficult to access, which require a bit of skill to reach them (we recommend lots of caution when going down), but once you get there they promise heavenly beach days. You can find this kind of beaches in the North (near El Cotillo) as well as in the South, like “Playa de los Ojos” in Jandia.

Fuertecharter Fuerteventura | Wind and beaches in Fuerteventura
Los Ojos beach: ©visitfuerteventura.es

In the Western coastline, for example Corralejo area, the beaches are protected from West winds thanks to the barrier that the town itself provides. The same happens in the South with the beaches at “avenida marítima” in Morro Jable.

A very recommended area in the island is the one oriented towards the south, in Península de Jandia, where we find quiet water coves sheltered from North winds going in a Westerly or Easterly direction, and also sheltered from heavy swells. Among these coves we find Playa Juan Gómez, known by most of its visitors as one of the best beaches in Spain.

Fuertecharter Fuerteventura | Wind and beaches in Fuerteventura

And in the rest of the beaches in our wonderful coastline, although without barriers that protect them from the winds, we always find these “corralitos”, so characteristic of Fuerteventura’s landscape. They are circular stone constructions, approximately one metre high, which can have different sizes: for a single person, couples or even for whole families. If you get to a beach beaten by the wind and you find one of these constructions don’t hesitate to settle in it. You’ll be able to watch this paradise from the peace and quiet, no matter how strongly the wind outside the walls in your shelter may blow.

Fuertecharter Fuerteventura | Wind and beaches in Fuerteventura
©ifuerteventura facebook

Fuertecharter Team

Tindaya Mountain, natural monument in Fuerteventura

They are several the natural monuments in Fuerteventura —Isla de Lobos is one of them, this is why we enjoy taking tourists to such a setting in our daily excursions— ; one of them, and which we consider a place where memory and magic find shelter is Tindaya Mountain. To the ancient inhabitants of the island (Los Mahos) this is a Sacred Mountain, one of the most important natural monuments in The Canary Islands.

Located 4 kms from the coast, in the ravine of Esquinzo, in the village of Tindaya (municipality of La Oliva), this mountain, 400m above sea level, is a spectacular trachyta python that erosion, over time, has exposed as the volcano that wrapped it wore down and showed it.

Fuertecharter Excursiones Fuerteventura| Montaña de Tindaya

The trachyte is a hard and rough volcanic rock that once was used to make millstones and is now a highly valued ornamental stone used for building and once polished it recalls marble. Geomorphologically, its study is essential to understand the formation of The Canary Islands.
Tindaya has very important cultural, historical and ecological values. Popularly known as the Witches’ mountain, it contains nearly 300 “podomorfos” footprints (foot-shaped engravings), which turn the mountain into one of the largest engraving sites in the planet, similar to those found in North Africa.

“Los podomorfos” in Tindaya Mountain
These foot-shaped engravings were made by different hands at different times, as there are several kinds, in size, execution and distribution. They are spread over more than fifty panels grouped in its upper section and almost thirty loose figures, missing today. We do not know much about these “podomorfos”, all of them oriented towards the sunset, the west; some believe this is because from the top of this mountain, on clear days, you can see Teide Mountain, which ancient inhabitants considered to be Satan’s residence and it might be the target of their rituals, although there are other more plausible theories which relate these footprints with astrological phenomena and Summer and Winter solstices. Other theories speak of nuptial rites … What is undeniable is that this mountain was a ritual site for ancient inhabitants and, therefore, a sacred mountain.

Aboriginal villages
At the foot of this mountain 3 permanent settlements with aboriginal remains have been found, research issues still open, remains of cabins or homes, polished shells and carefully crafted pottery, which seems to belong to rituals rather than to household goods. The oral history or Tindaya tells that games, dances and magical-religious rituals, linked to the stars and supernatural forces, were held there.

Plant and animal species shelter.
The sacred mountain of Tindaya is also shelter for endemic species, many of them unique to Fuerteventura and some, endangered. We’ll highlight “La Chumberilla de Lobos” or “Cernúa” (Caralluma Burchardii). It also serves as a shelter for animals, many of them species in clear decline, classified as rare and uncommon now, as it is the case of the Canary Island Stonechat and the Trumpeter Finch.

Natural Area of ​​National Interest.
For all these values, this area was declared, by 12/1987 Law, of June 19th , on Declaration of Canary Island Natural Areas, as “Paraje Natural de Interés Nacional de Montaña Tindaya” and reclassified as natural monument by 12/1994 Law, of December 19th, on Natural Areas of the Canary Islands.

One of the most beautiful living monuments in the Canary Islands
Tindaya is culture, history, magic and nature; it is a natural monument worthy of respect and research to clarify the past of this land, that of the ancient inhabitants of this corner of La Macaronesian who, like us, felt the magnetism that turns it into the Witches’ Mountain, one of the most beautiful living monuments in the Canary Islands.

Climbing this mountain is now banned but you can stroll around to feel its majesty, also visible from different areas in northern Fuerteventura and recognizable for its special rock, different from other mountains or volcanoes on the island.
They are already several the recommendations of must spots to visit and discover in this island; our favourite one will always be the tour around Isla de Lobos in one of our daily excursions from Corralejo; it is so recommendable that we are number one on TripAdvisor so, will you miss it?

FuerteCharter Team

Fuerteventura, stopping place for the Sandwich Tern

The Sandwich Tern (Sterna sandivecensis) is a migrant seabird that nests on the European coast of Sweden, British Isles, Germany, Denmark, Poland, Brittany and Baltic countries; Also on the shores of the Black sea and the Caspian Sea and in North and Central America.

Those living in Europe fly over the coastal area each year from northern Europe to West and Southern Africa, in search of warmth in winter. In this journey, coasts and wetlands of the Canary Islands, are a must stop for these birds, although compared to the migration that exists in the African coast, in the Canary Islands we can say that this phenomenon is less relevant.

Description
The Sandwich Tern belongs to the order of Charadriiformes, family Laridae, and it has an average size (41cm long and 94cm wingspan).
Its feathers are black, white and gray. Its round head has a kind of black bun (pileus), which in the mating season can cover almost its entire head. Its beak is long and black with yellow tip and its tail is forked.

Excursiones Fuertecharter | Charran Patinegro en Fuerteventura

Flying habits
The Sandwich Tern’s flight is similar to the gulls’, very agile and light, featuring longer and narrower wings though, which makes them more graceful.

Feeding
They eat fish on the beaches and in coastal waters; also molluscs and marine worms. They don’t usually move beyond the continental shelf to forage, and once they have located their prey they pounce on it, plunging into the water.

Reproduction
The Sandwich Tern is a very sociable bird that usually creates dense colonies of thousands of individuals. Within the colony, each specimen with its partner lay their eggs (1 or 2) by the end of April or early May. They don’t build elaborate nests, they just use a hole in the gravel, sand or between two stones, and they usually cover it with vegetation.
Their eggs have a creamy colour with lots of black speckles, and they incubate them, both father and mother, for 22 to 26 days. 15 days after hatching chicks gather in groups that are watched by an adult, and 30 days later they fly the nest for the first time.

Excursiones Fuertecharter | Charran Patinegro en Fuerteventura
©es.paperblog.com

Habitat
In Fuerteventura we find the Sandwich Tern in ponds, lagoons or lowlands, especially in the area of ​​the beaches of Sotavento (Jandía), El Cotillo, Corralejo, Majanicho, and inland areas, like in Rosa Catalina Garcia, in Los Molinos Dam and in some ravines with permanent water.

Migration and presence on the islands
This bird is regular in this land, so we can find specimens on the islands in almost every month of the year, there are even some that spend the winter on our shores, but when we find the most of them is in autumn (August and September) when they come down to Africa searching winter warmth, and in spring (March and April), when they go back to northern Europe.

What determines how long these birds spend on our shores is the peace and quiet they find here and the availability of food to refuel and continue their journey. The manipulation of the environment by man, such as road building or construction, can modify the habitats of these species, by seeking best places to rest.

Fuertecharter Team

Foam salt, Fuerteventura

Throughout history, a whole cultural and commercial world has developed around salt. In Fuerteventura, already since the times of the Mahos (ancient aboriginal inhabitants), salt was part of their culinary culture, using salt water to cook and preserve food.

It’s already at the time of the conquest by the Spanish lords (1402-1496) when this sea resource begins to be used and managed, thus developing the salt farming activity.

Between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries a true salt industry was created in Fuerteventura , with different areas of operation. Although currently only Las Salinas del Carmen (Antigua) remains active, as from the nineteenth century industrial processes left craft aside,  in ancient times there were farms in La Hondurilla (Caleta de Fuste),  El Charco (Puerto del Rosario), Gran Tarajal and the island of Lobos in Marrajo area where, in our daily trips to the neighbouring island, the remains of these salt farming areas can still be observed.
Today, thanks to the creation of the “Centro de Interpretación de la Sal” in Las Salinas del Carmen, the ancient craft of salt maker has been kept, and the visitor can discover how salt is produced on the island in the traditional way.

Salt marshes are characterised by two factors:
- First, to produce salt on clay soils where, when water evaporates, the salt that is produced also acquires salts  from the soil, so their nutritional values ​​are much richer.
- And second, because the sea water used in these salt marshes is surface water, which is the best. Generally, in other salt marshes, sea water is transported to the cookers through pipes using pumps, so it is water from the depths, but at Las Salinas del Carmen water directly gets into the salt marsh after breaking the waves, therefore, what comes in is actually lots of whipped foam, which produces a high quality salt: what is known as foam salt.
So this  foam salt from Fuerteventura is a premium product which is becoming a gourmet product in some markets such as Japan, and it is easier to find in fine dining restaurants.
Numerous studies have shown the benefits of this salt foam in contrast to common salt.

Process
Once the wave breaks and enters the salt marsh, it’s directed to the heaters, which are some areas where water is reserved for 8 to 10 days, to get heated.
After these days, the salt maker takes it to the cookers or pits, where it remains another 15 or 20 days, and water evaporates in the sun, leading to the formation of salt crystals. During this period the salt maker should mix the piles of salt with a rake twice a day, at sunrise and sunset, so that  the crystals that are formed on the surface go to the bottom and allow the formation of more crystals. This is what is known as salt skimming.

Excursiones FuerteCharter | Sal de espuma de Fuerteventura

© pellagofio.es

Then salt piles in “balaches”, which are edges  of cookers or pits, and there it remains piled for a week, and from there it goes to the warehouse to be packaged.

Excursiones Fuertecharter | Sal de espuma de Fuerteventura
© cabildofuer.es

Generally the process of obtaining salt starts in March, and it often extends to October (some years even later,  if the rainy seasons hasn’t started). The rest of the year the work of the salt maker is to keep the salt in perfect conditions, cleaning the pits in depth and building new ones for the next season.
We recommend a tour around Centro de Interpretación de la Sal de Las Salinas del Carmen, where visitors can discover all the ins and outs of this craftsmanship so related to the sea around us.
Hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 18pm.

FuerteCharter Team

 

 

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

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

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

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

Morays in Fuerteventura (Muraenidae)

Muraenidae  are a family of  voracious and slippery fish in the shape of eel or snake inhabiting rocky areas or near-shore jetties or puddles (abundant to 50m deep), in tropical and subtropical waters worldwide. They are also sometimes found in deeper waters (the largest ones). On the coast of Fuerteventura, we can find some species of this family.

They are voracious predators of fish, cephalopods and crustaceans, which usually remain hidden in crevices, stalking prey, and usually they only  leave their den at night to hunt.

Morphology
They can be up to five feet long, and weigh 2 to 10kg.
They usually breed between May and October, with a peak set in August.
They have a dorsal fin along the whole body which joins ends with the tail fin. They don’t usually have pectoral and pelvic fins.
One feature of this family is its strong and double jaw (internal and external, “allien” type), whose shape  allows them to catch prey and swallow it without using its limbs.
Their main predators are other  morays and groupers.
They have small eyes and very underdeveloped sight, so they’re usually very suspicious fish which immediately launch attacks with their mouth to defend themselves, and though their bite isn’t usually poisonous, it’s very painful. They also have very small gills, so they often need to open their mouth wide to breathe.
Their skin does not have scales, but a mucous membrane which is toxic in  some species, and they have an irregular colouration to help them  camouflage.

Fishing murays
Fishing murays follows an ancient technique that mixes ritual with work. Fishermen often attract them with some songs that numb them, like siren songs. They are repetitive tunes, which vary from one island to another, but  they often say things like: “Jo, little Moray … Jooo”, “Come little Moray , Goldentail Moray,  the male is coming to eat your litter” and other typical verses accompanied by loud whistles and a pretty effusive intonation. The old moray fishermen  believe that without this technique it would be impossible to catch these animals, as their strong jaws destroy any fishing hook.
These work songs, whose records date back to the sixteenth century, and  which are said to have their origin in the ancient Greece, have been incorporated into the musical heritage of the Canary Islands, thanks to musical groups like “Los Sabandeños  who sing “El pescador de Morenas” or a group of Canarian artists” Artenara” with their song ” El Canto de la Morena “.
Along with these songs, the fisherman also uses a hollow reed, inside which there is a wire ending in a noose, with a piece of squid attached as bait. The moray, stunned by repetitive songs, guard down and leaves its den in search of the piece of octopus.

Gastronomy
The moray is a delicacy for many palates, thanks to the excellent quality of its meat. The coast moray tends to have fewer bones and be more tasty than the deep water moray, which has more fat. As gastronomic anecdote, moray eels were highly valued in the Roman Empire, where the most special celebrations used to serve a menu with morays. The species was bred in a kind of  fish farms, and it’s said that Romans often gave them the slaves’ flesh as food, as they said that the flavour of  the morays fed with human flesh was delicious. Hence the phrase “sentenced to morays.”

Species
Among the species of Morays we have in the Canary Islands are:

Black Moray (Muraena Augusti)
It is the most abundant and is endemic to these islands and also to  Madeira and Azores.
It can be up to 1m long, and  it’s usually found  within 100m deep.
Its body is spindle-shaped and in the distance it may seem black or bluish gray, but if you look closely you can clearly see its white spots.
It prefers rocky bottoms, with caves and hollows to shelter during the day.

FuerteCharter | Moray Fuerteventura
© Sacha Lobenstein_www.enelmar.es

Mediterranean Moray (Muraena helena)
This species is the largest one, reaching five feet long, and it’s usually found on the eastern islands, dwelling, like the black Moray, in rocky bottoms. Its bite is poisonous, due to the haemophilus secretion of its palatal mucosa.

FuerteCharter | Morays Fuerteventura
© ojodigital.com

Fangtooth Moray (Enchelycore anatina)
Although not as plentiful as the black Moray, we can also see it in rocky areas. It differs clearly because of its yellow head and its body patterns. It is a little smaller and it can reach up to 60cms.

FuerteCharter | Morays Fuerteventura
© Philippe Guillaume _www.zoopicture.ru

Goldentail Moray (Gymnothorax miliaris)
This species is often mistaken with the Fangtooth Moray, but its head is more rounded and its body patterns are more marked. It is one of the most elusive and rare to see moray eels, as it is very shy. El Hierro is the island where it is most frequently seen. It is a poorly studied species.

FuerteCharter | Morays Fuerteventura
©www.smsg-falklands.org

FuerteCharter Team