Fuerteventura and Corralejo, tourist week at the international tourist fair in Madrid (Fitur)

•    Corralejo promotes itself as one of the most important emergent destinations in Europe

•    Corralejo highlights in Madrid the prize awarded by TripAdvisor

•    The new American ambassador in Spain visits Corralejo’s exhibitor in Fitur LGBT

•    The mayoress will give a speech tomorrow about LGBT sector together with Maspalomas and Ibiza

•    The importance of this town after having been used as cinema set in the shooting of  “Exodus” and “The Dictator” has been highlighted.

Corralejo Grandes Playas and the rest of La Oliva have started their tourist promotion this week in the International Tourist Fair in Madrid (Fitur),  highlighting the recent award by Tripadvisor, which certifies that the tourist area in the North of Fuerteventura is the most important emergent tourist destination in Europe and the 9th in the world. An award won thanks to the opinions and scoring by TripAdvisor users, one of the most important tourist portals in the continent.  
The Mayoress in La Oliva, Claudina Morales, and the Councillor of Tourism, Marcelino Umpiérrez, attended the inauguration of the fair in Madrid, the most important in Spain, and the third most important in Europe along with London and Berlin, aiming to deepen in the promotion of this town among the tour operators in the Peninsula. The symptoms of recovery regarding peninsular tourism registered in the last quarter of 2013 could extend to the year 2014, according to the forecast by the tourism management in Madrid.
Moreover, Corralejo Grandes Playas inaugurates its own display in the so called pink corner, where some of the destinations and companies supporting the LGBT sector (Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transsexuals) gather. This initiative places Corralejo next to two already consolidated destinations in this sector, which will allow the specialised press to get to know the tourist area in the North of the Island even better, and its attractions for the LGBT community. We must highlight the efforts by Fuerteventura and Corralejo to promote as a tolerant and “gayfriendly” destination. We will also remark the presentation of the poster for the next “Rainbow Fuerteventura”, which will be celebrated from the 4th to the 8th of December.

The increasing importance of this town after being used as a film set after the shooting of “Exodus”, by Ridley Scott, the American film “The dictator” or “Invasor”, the last production by the director Daniel Calparsoro has also been highlighted.
Another interesting proposal in Fuerteventura are the boat trips in Corralejo, and Fuertecharter has also done its bit to get this award by Tripadvisor, as we are the first attraction in The Canary Islands, something we feel proud of.
With our trips in Fuerteventura, the boat trips and boat chartering we contribute to letting the tourists find out the wonders in the Northern area which has been so promoted and that visitors like so much, thus getting customer loyalty.

 FuerteCharter Team

 

Josefina Plá: The culture lady

The islet of Lobos — where we go almost everyday on our boat trips from Corralejo to show tourists the charms of its coasts and waters— is where the literary artist Josefina Plá was born, the 9th of November, 1903: she was the daughter of Leopoldo Plá, born to a family of natives from Alicante, and Rafaela Guerra Galvaní. Relating Josefina Plá to just one discipline is a hard task, as apart from being a poet, playwright, essayist, fiction writer and journalist she was also a well-known ceramicist, art critic and painter.
She was christened in Fermés Church and registered in Yaiza (Lanzarote), but her father’s profession, lighthouse keeper, made her leave the Canary Islands when she was only 5 on a tour around the Spanish geography and its beautiful coasts. So they lived in Valencia, Bilbao, and many other cities where she spent many years of her childhood and adolescence.
Culture was very important to her family, and this provided her with a most reliable literary basis and a great love for languages. Being 18 she had a command of French, English and she had some knowledge of Latin and could translate from German. Besides, her artistic side went beyond arts; she had stood out in some ceramic works, drawing and painting. In 1926 she met the Paraguayan ceramicist Andrés Campos Cervera in Villajoyosa, Alicante. He was internationally known as Julián Herrería, and she would marry him two years later, and then in 1927 she would settle with him in Asunción, Paraguay, a city where she spent the rest of her life and where she developed her whole career and developed all her achievements.
The arrival to this country that would adopt her was no bed of roses and she was rejected by a part of the Paraguayan aristocracy, who considered her as an “intrusive gipsy” and they were against her procedures. However this didn’t stop her from developing a rich artistic and intellectual production.
Josefina Plá is considered as one of the main representatives of the Generation of the 40’s, a fighter for human rights and one of the first activists of feminism in Paraguay, dame of the order of Isabel la Católica in Spain among many other distinctions, such as: member of the International Academy of Ceramics, located in Geneva, Switzerland; Bicentennial medal of the USA (1976); Ollantay trophy to the theatrical research, Venezuela(1984); Councillor in the Vice-Ministry of culture in Paraguay; National order of Merit in the degree of Commander in the Paraguayan Government (1994); Golden medal in Fine Arts in Spain (1995); award for her defence of human rights, by the International Society of Lawyers; member of the Paraguayan Academy of the Language, of the Paraguayan History and of the Spanish History; finalist in the contest of merits for the granting of the “Príncipe de Asturias” prize and also “Doctor Honoris Causa” in the University of Asunción (1981); nominated for the award of the “Premio Cervantes”, the greatest award for the Spanish Arts in the years 1989 and 1994, and that of honorary citizenship conferred by the Paraguayan parliament in 1998, among others.

boat trips from corralejo

Josefina Plá was a prolific writer, more than 60 published books what with poems, playwrights, short tales, essays, criticisms… she always believed that the best way to renew and enhance culture consisted of knowing how to combine research, creativity and teaching. So she set up the Municipal School of the Performing Arts, where she was teaching for twenty-two years, the centre “Arte Nuevo”, and the Museum “Julián de la Herrería”, and she also took part in the setting up of the Artistic and Literary group “Vy’a raity” (joy nest), whose main aim was that of taking the Paraguayan culture beyond its boundaries.
She passed away in Asunción, the 11th of January, 1999, after a whole life working to bring modernity to art and literature in Paraguay, and she was a leader for many generations of artists and writers, which earned her the title that best defines her: “Dama de la Cultura” (the culture lady)

In FuerteCharter, by means of our boat trips from Corralejo, we don’t just want to show you the natural charm surrounding us in the island of Fuerteventura, but we also want to show the history of this little big paradise.

FuerteCharter Team

Discover the Cory’s Shearwater in our boat trips

In this adventure we have embarked, wanting to show the world the wonder of living in a paradise such as Fuerteventura, we feel compelled to talk about all those animal species that accompany us day after day in our boat trips around this area of the Atlantic.

In this occasion, to open this section about birds in Fuerteventura, we want to talk about the Cory’s Shearwater, which flies around our ships and makes its nest —to  breed— in one of our favourite tourist destinations, the island of Lobos.
Shearwaters are pelagic sea birds, which only leave the open sea in order to nest and breed. Their habitat, so, is the sea and they fly long distances to forage, picking up food from the sea surface while flying.

boat trips corys shearwater
© Xavier Martínez

The Cory’s Shearwater, typical of our islands, owes its name to its grey ash feathers. It flies and fishes in flocks, and it flies very well in strong winds. It’s able to cross the Atlantic and go back every year to the same breeding sites.
They are average size birds (40-45 cms), with long wings, and they can naturally live up to 30 years.

The Canry Islands, a breeding site.
Most part of the population of the Cory’s Shearwater is found in the Canary Islands, more than 30.000 couples, followed by the Balearic Islands, Chafarinas Islands and other Mediterranean islets.
They only come to land, the coast, in order to breed, and when they get to their nests, near their breeding area, they make very characteristic guttural and nasal sounds. In Fuerteventura it’s typical, in light-poor coastal areas, to hear the cawing of the Cory’s Shearwater coming near the coast, and they receive the answer from the ones that are already there. That way they announce their arrival in a very noisy way. Furthermore, when they come to land in order to breed, they wait for the night so as to easily go unnoticed.

Breeding
They approach our coasts in March, in flocks from 300 to 400 specimens, a moment of really intense social activity in sea-bird breeding colonies. For this purpose they approach mainly islands and islets, although they also approach coastal cliffs.  They use natural hollows (caves, nest-holes, cracks…), or they just dig them, using lush bushes and rocks as shelter. It’s copulation time and it will be in May that their eggs will be laid.

Offspring
They lay just one egg a year, which is never re-laid in case they lose it. Just half of the Cory’s Shearwaters starting to breed manage to fledge their offspring. The responsibility of egg incubation falls as much to the male as to the female bird, just one of them leaves the nest in order to bring food to their partner, which can stay from 3 to 9 days in the nest protecting the egg. The synchrony in the couple must be perfect, and so it must remain until the end of the breeding season.

boat trips corys shearwater
© Víctor Cubas

At the end of July the hatching takes place. The grey ash breeding chicken will never be alone in its nest-hole, one of its parents will always be beside it while the other goes foraging for the family. The adults feed their chicken with Iberian nases, squids and mackerels caught in the open sea and which they carry in their crop to the nest, already partially digested.
After being fed by their parents for 50 days, the chickens start to fly and try to get their own food on the surface of the huge ocean. They instinctively leave the coast in the middle of the night to make for the sea, though not all of them achieve their goal, as many of them are disorientated by light pollution.
For many years now, the coastal villages in Fuerteventura have been switching off their lights to help these young Cory’s Shearwaters so protected by their parents to reach the open sea.
In December, the breading season finishes, they start to migrate and it won’t be until February the following year that they will return to their nests to start breeding again. The young birds won’t go back to their birth places until reaching their sexual maturity, from two to nine years later. The birds that have been bred in the Atlantic Coast spread all over the coasts of Western Africa until South Africa.

If you are coming to Fuerteventura or you are one resident of this part of Macaronesia, don’t forget to listen to the Cory’s Shearwater’s cawing, look for them when travelling to Lobos with our boat trips, it’s one of those shows that nature gives us.

FuerteCharter Team 

Cetaceand in Fuerteventura II: characteristics and classification

As we said in our previous article, we can distinguish up to 30 different species of cetaceans in the waters surrounding the coast of our archipelago. The main classification we can make of these huge sea animals allows us to divide them in three big groups: whales and fin whalesbeaked whales and dolphins and Risso’s dolphins.
Sometimes, as we have already said, these huge mammals approach us on our boat trips and turn our adventure into an unforgettable experience.

Whales and Fin whales
These cetaceans are the biggest ones you can watch in Fuerteventura, and coming across one of them is always an unforgettable experience. Whales and fin whales are represented, in the waters of the Biosphere Reserve in Fuerteventura, by many emblematic species such as the sperm whale, the fin whale and the bryde’s whale.

– Fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus)
The fin whale is the biggest cetacean we can watch in Fuerteventura. Only the blue whale is bigger, and it has been rarely seen in the Canary Islands (Tenerife and La Gomera). Sometimes it leaps up out of the water and it can reach a speed of 30km/h. It can have a length of up to 26mts although it’s something exceptional and the average is usually much shorter.
rorcual_comun
One of the ways to identify it is its asymmetrical pigmentation: on the right side we can see its white lower lip, and on the left side, it’s grey.

– Bryde’s whale (Balaenoptera edeni)

The Bryde’s whale is a solitary cetacean that can rarely be seen in big pods, although they usually gather in places where food is abundant (sardines, mackerel and krill).
Despite its size (baby whales can weight up to 900 kg at birth), it’s an agile animal and her way of swimming is more similar to a dolphin’s than to a whale’s, being able to leap up out of the water.

rorcual tropical

It’s very curious, approaches ships easily, swimming round or along with them.
In the Canary islands we can observe it from the end of the winter season until the summer.

– Sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus)
It’s the only toothed whale among the big ones. It feeds on fish and big cephalopods, such as giant squids.
She can be under water for longer than two hours, diving up to 3km deep looking for food. They live in communities, either single male communities (made up of sexually inactive young male whales) or baby whales, usually from 20 to 25 specimens, although they can make bigger groups.

cachalote
It’s the animal with the biggest brain in nature. It’s teeth are also the biggest in the  animal kingdom, weighting up to 1k and being up to 20cms long each.
Adult males can be up to 20,5 mts long.
They usually rest by floating and drifting motionless. Its wide tale can be easily recognized when it lifts it in order to plunge.

Beaked whales
Beaked whales are the most unknown cetaceans of them all, even many of its species have never been seen alive. In many cases we only know about them thanks to studies made on dead specimens. Nowadays 20 species are known, although it’s believed that there might be some more to be found out.
In the Canary Island the most common species are the Blainville’s Beaked whale and the Cuvier’s Beaked whale.

– Blainville’s Beaked Whale (Mesoplodon densirostris)
The males have a couple of big teeth growing within raised bumps on their lower jaws, so they can easily be distinguished when observed. Although it isn’t easy to be seen, it’s one of the beaked whales which offer most possibilities. They dive for very short time, from 20 to 40 seconds, although it can dive up to 45 minutes when looking for food. The Blainville’s
zifio blainville
Beaked Whale has the thickest bones in the whole animal kingdom. These characteristic teeth don’t grow on females, although they have similar bumps on the lower jaw, not as raised as in males.

– Cuvier’s Beaked Whale (Ziphius cavirostris)
It’s one of the most unknown members in the cetaceans’ family and although they can’t be seen easily, The Canary Islands is one of the best places to see them. They present a wide variety of colours. Adult whales are whitish (they can be mistaken for pilot whales) and their body is scored with scars. They have two little teeth at the tip of the lower jaw; its dorsal fin can be low and have a triangular shape, with an almost straight rear rim, although on some occasions whales with a more bended fin can be seen.

zifio cuvier
New born whales are among 2 and 3 mts long, while adult whales can even reach the 7mts. Their colour varies depending on sex and age.
Immersions can last from 20 to 40 minutes.

Dolphins and Risso’s dolphins
Delphinidae are the widest family of cetaceans and they include dolphins as well as risso’s dolphins, killer whales and porpoises.
The image of dolphins is widely known, their beak being their main characteristic although it isn’t a rating aspect. Risso’s dolphins have a rounded head, no beak, and the Canary Islands are one of the privileged places holding populations of this species in their waters.

– Common Dolphin (Delphinus delphis)
It can easily be recognised for their colours, with a dark “v” just below their dorsal fin, or for their pattern in the shape of an hourglass timer. They are usually found in very numerous groups, and their leaps can be seen and even heard in the distance. Their sharp squeaks can be heard outside the water, and their immersions can last around 8 minutes, although they usually dive from 10 seconds to 2 minutes.

delfín común
It’s a very active dolphin, which likes acrobatic jumps out of the water, sometimes even somersaults.
It’s one of the most abundant cetaceans in the world, with a total population that is now estimated to comprise several million dolphins.

– Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus)

It’s the best known dolphin, usually seen in dolphinariums as part of water shows as well as in TV series and films. It has a very varied coloration, although light may make it look like an even grey.
When they feed, dolphins help one another, and they have even cooperated with local fishermen.
Delfin_mular

It’s a very strong dolphin that can be up to 3,9 mts long.
They usually jump in front of the ships and they are very curious and active.

– Spotted Dolphin (Stenella frontales)

It’s a very active dolphin and a wonderful jumper, sometimes jumping really high into the air,  where it seems to remain suspended before splashing in the water. New born spotted dolphins have no spots: they appear as they grow up, becoming really big and numerous on big specimens.
delfin moteado

They like following the whitewash trails of boats and they are very friendly, they even approach divers under the water.
It’s an exclusively Atlantic species, and it’s becoming more and more frequent in the Canary Islands.

– Striped Dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba)

It’s quite easy to identify because of its typical pattern on its sides. He plunges at least 200mts looking for food, from 5 to 10 minutes. They can make up really large communities, up to 500 of them, although in the Atlantic you find less than 100 dolphins together. They usually join the common dolphin, similar in size and shape although with different colour patterns.
It’s a great acrobat, it loves jumping and performing twists and cartwheels in the air. It can reach up to 7mts high when performing some of them. delfin listado
It’s dorsal fin is high in relation to its body size. Its colours may vary from blueish grey to brownish grey.
It’s very usual to see them following the whitewash trails of boats.

–  Risso’s Dolphin (Grampus griseus)
They’re relatively easy to identify due to their body, scored with scars, which spread as they grow up. Their colour becomes lighter with age, although there are great variations, some adult specimens being as dark as other kind of pilot whales.
Their brow is slightly swollen, dying down considerably towards their mouth, where no beak can be made out.

6767859db30145aeb8e6ecd5022db42ecalderongris.jpg

It’s one of the species, together with the bottlenose dolphin, which most approaches the coast in the Canary Islands.
Its immersions are short, from 1 to 2 minutes, but they can remain under water up to 30 minutes.

– Short finned pilot whale (Globicephala macrorhynchus)
The short finned pilot whale is one of the cetaceans you can occasionally see in Fuerteventura, although in the Canary Islands there are resident populations all year round in Tenerife and La Gomera. Sometimes you can watch whole pods of whales floating idly. It’s usually black or dark grey, and its brow is rounded. It can plunge up to 40 minutes, reaching the 1000mts deep looking for squids and other cephalopods to feed.

calderon tropical

On their head and rounded brow you find an organ known as “melon”, common to every toothed cetaceans. It’s thought to be useful for their echolocation. They make up pods from 10 to 30 specimens, and they have a matriarchal structure.

FuerteCharter’s Team

 

Cetaceans in Fuerteventura

In our dear archipelago, belonging to La Macaronesia, we’re lucky to enjoy ideal oceanographic and geomorphological conditions for the coexistence of tropical sea species coming from the North and the ones coming from the warm or cold South.
These characteristics turn us into one of the places in the world with the widest cetacean variety in its waters, no doubt ranking at the top in Europe. According to the scientists and scholars Vidal Martín and Manuel Carrillo (Red Canaria de Varamientos y Sociedad para el Estudio de los Cetáceos en Canarias), in the Canary Island waters 30 cetacean species have been identified, including whales and dolphins.
The first whale watching we have records of date back to the first century B.C; the data were recorded in a text by Plinio about the large number of whales coming to our coasts. Aboriginal remains of vertebrae and ribs belonging to big cetaceans, as well as decorative elements and carved whale bones reveal that these huge water mammals have been living in our waters for centuries.
According to Vidal Martín, the main species we have records of are: beaked whales, sperm whales and the long-finned pilot whales (great depths divers that can dive to depths below 3000 m. in order to feed themselves with great depths cephalopods and crustaceans). There are also several species of dolphins and whales (fin, sei and Bryde’s whales), some of which feed on schools of fish and breed and live in our waters, in some cases even for several years.
The tourist sector is beginning to take up whale watching near our coasts, and according to some experts this is an activity that, well organized, shouldn’t mean a threat for the cetaceans. In the South of Tenerife, La Gomera and Gran Canaria boat trips for whale watching are easier, as cetaceans are usually found in quiet waters, very near the coast. In Fuerteventura and Lanzarote it’s a bit more complicated due to a greater instability of their waters, although this activity is mounting and so is our tourist offer as far as water experiences is concerned.
In our island of Fuerteventura you can find “La senda de los Cetáceos” (the cetaceans’ pathway), a scientific, artistic and social initiative that consists of displaying the remains of the skeletons of several cetaceans on our beaches in public areas, using them as source of information and environmental awareness. This initiative offers artists the chance to intermingle landscape, art and nature, and it offers scientists the chance to study the skeleton of these huge sea animals once other aspects have been studied such as the possible causes of beaching and the death of the cetaceans that every year reach our coasts. We can find some of these sculptures in places such as Las Salinas del Carmen (Puerto del Rosario), where the huge skeleton of a 19,5 metre-long female fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus)was  found stranded on the 18th April 2000 in the coast of Majanicho (La Oliva).
In El Saladar de Jandia, Morro de Jable (Pájara)the skeleton of a 14,5 meter-long male sperm whale (Phuseter macrocephalus) has been displayed since 2006; it was found stranded in El Granillo (Pájara) in 2004.  Other sculptures in this pathway are Cuvier’s beaked whale (Ziphius cavirostris), the short-finned pilot whale (Globicepahla macrorhynchus), considered as a vulnerable species in the National catalogue of endangered species, and a sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus).
The osteological study of these animals tries to reveal if there are macaronesian populations or even exclusive in the Canary Islands, as osteological variations in species that have adapted to a determined area have been produced.

In the trips we carry out with FuerteCharter, in many occasions, we are really lucky to have the chance to watch these impressive mammals that come to meet us, mainly in the Island of Lobos area. Sometimes they approach us as if they wanted to say hello, and those moments are a really incredible experience not just for our customers but for ourselves, the crew, too.

In next articles we’ll provide a classification of the different cetaceans living in majorera waters, to explain the peculiarities of these big mammals.
Notes about Cetaceans:
– Huge mammals who live exclusively in the water and don’t need the solid ground in order to give birth.
– They are divided into two sub-orders: Mysticeti (bearded cetaceans which feed themselves filtering the water-food through their beard) and Odontoceti (homodont hunters, whose teeth are all the same type)
-Longevity: it varies depending on the species; ranging between 30 years in some dolphins and 60 years in the case of pilot whales.
– They feel threatened by the use of high-frequency sonar in naval exercises, by high-speed vessel crashing ferries or freighters and by oil platforms, noise pollution and habitat degradation.

FuerteCharter’s Team 

Fuerteventura and fishing

Historic evidences and archaeological remains point out the importance that fishing has had as an essential activity for this island’s inhabitants, and also its importance as a feeding source for the «majorera» population, especially in periods of drought and famine. The productivity of our sea (the biggest in the Canarian archipelago, even today) has contributed to keep this important sailing tradition.

Inshore fishery in Fuerteventura, one of the island’s hallmarks, has been one of majorero sailors’ main activities, who on board of little boats (roar and Latin sail boats in the old days, engine boats nowadays) have been fishing in their shores. The ancient settlers in Fuerteventura, The «mahos», practised fishing and shell fishing as a complementary activity to their predominant pastoral economy. The importance of shell fishing is determined by the existence of several middens (accumulations of sea mollusc shells like limpets, mussels or « burgaos», together with some ceramics and stone gadgets) found in several spots in the coast, as well as in some villages and settlements. Majorero aborigines used to fish in the shore, coastal fish like «Viejas», «samas» or morays.

Among the techniques used by aborigines we find: night fishing with torch wicks, fishing with rods and bone hooks, and fishing with traps made of rush. The most interesting technique used by ancient majoreros is «el barbasco» or «embroscado», which consists of catching the fish in little puddles at the shore, when the tide was low. To do this they dissolved the sap from either the «cardón» or the «tabaiba» (mullein) into the puddle water. The toxic properties of this milky sap made fish sleepy and allowed catching it even with their own hands.

Fuerteventura’s coastline is splashed with little fishing villages, many of them with a long fishing tradition. Some of these villages were, in the beginning, improvised shelters, caves or temporary shacks, where fishers went at determined periods of the year in search of better fishing; this is the case of Los Molinos or Pozo Negro.

In the old days, sailors used to have great economic difficulties; fish was cheap, and there was no money in Fuerteventura. Bartering was the basis of the home economics for a long time.

The shortage was one of the reasons why children went out into the sea so soon, to learn this trade which passed on from fathers to sons and that has traditionally been an exclusively male trade; a lot of children, younger than 10, were sailing on their fathers’ little boats, and they even embarked deep sea fishing in Africa when they were hardly 12 or 14. Meanwhile, women were the ones running the house due to the almost permanent absence of their husbands (fishing on board). Even the agreements with middlemen for the sale of fish were female tasks; they controlled the fish weight and were paid.

Majorero fishermen, experts in the fishing arts, the seabed, the wind and the most interesting species were also expert sailors, but they never needed either nautical charts or equipment; they fixed their position by taking a bearing from land just using their good eyesight and sense of orientation.

Nowadays fishing survives thanks to the sailors’ initiative, as they have known how to keep the majorero sea’s resources. But building, mainly touristic building on the coast, the pressure by other production sectors and the rise in the cost of living made it difficult, at the end of the XX C, to devote to inshore fishing, a profession that has been partly recovered today.

If you want to know every single detail of the fishing history in Fuerteventura we invite you to visit the «Museo de la Pesca Tradicional del Faro de Cotillo».

FuerteCharter´s team

Isla de Lobos, Fuerteventura

To the northwest of Fuerteventura, a bit further than 2km. away from Corralejo, we find Isla (o islote) de Lobos; an almost virgin area, a paradise of birds and flora that cannot be found anywhere else in our planet. It is one of the oldest areas in the Canarian Archipelago (dating from the Pleistocene), one of the wildest and furthest from human intervention areas. It consists of lava flows and volcanic sand deposits, eroded by Alisian winds, and marked by dry weather. In the old days —XV C— this island was inhabited by pirates and by some monk seals —known as sea lions by natives, hence this island’s name— which were exterminated by fishermen who considered them as a danger due to the great amount of fish they needed (among 30-40 kg per day) in order to survive. At present it is a threatened species —being hunted by men in order to get their fur and their fat— and there are just a few settlements left.

Canarian paradise

Up to 1968, this islet was inhabited by Antonio Hernán­dez Páez —Antoñito «el farero» — and his family, but the lighthouse he watched over, Martiño’s lighthouse, was restored and nowadays it works automatically. This island was also the Spanish writer Josephina Pla’s birth place, in 1903; she was a poet, a playwright, a narrator, an essayist, a ceramist, an art critic and a journalist. Although she was born Spanish, her name and her work are totally linked to the Paraguayan culture in the XX C, where she arrived in 1927.
Nowadays in this island there is a small settlement of houses —Known as El Puertito— consisting of fishermen huts that come here in summer or at the weekends to enjoy the peace and quietness that can be breathed in this paradise, and some of them, like Elías and Tita, enjoy this peace all over the year.
Isla de Lobos —made of small cliffs and creeks of turquoise waters— was one of the first natural areas in the Canary Islands to be protected. In 1982 it was declared Natural park (together with Corralejo’s dunes), but due to its environmental value, in 1994 it came to be known as The Natural Park Isla de Lobos.
At present it has been declared as ZEPA (special area for protection of birds), IBA (important bird area) and LIC (Place of communal interest), which has made it compulsory to demarcate restricted areas so as not to damage any of the species that inhabit it, due to their fragility.
Moreover, Lobos has a high heritage and ethnographic value, as it counts on salines, lime kilns, cisterns, Martiño’s Lighthouse (built in 1865) and several paleontological sites (belonging to the Jandiense and Erbanense periods).
A great biodiversity exists in Lobos, as it houses settlements of Canarian endemic species that can only be found there, like Limonium ovalifolium ssp. Canariensis; as well as the great amount of migrant and sea birds that live and fly over the islet. There are around 300 caves where the cory’s shearwater (Calonectris Diomeda) and the little shearwater (Puffinus assimilis) live. Even couples of fisher eagles have been seen; also, in this islet’s volcanic cliff hollows several birds, like the petrel de Bulwer, the yellow-legged gull (Larus michahellis) and the wilson’s storm-petrel (Oceanites Oceanicus) live. Occasionally we can find, in the dunes of the northern side, the famous houbara bustard (Chlamydotis undulate), now in danger of extinction. Other migrant birds that have arrived in Lobos are the grey heron (Ardea Cinerea), little egret (Egreta garzetta), Eurasian curlew (Numenius Arquata), little ringed plover (Charadrius dubius), spoonbills (Plateinae)… and some other species that have been nesting like the Egyptian vulture (Neophron pernocterus). In addition to this important avifauna there are also small lizards, wall lizards, rabbits… and most of all sea beds considered among the best in the Atlantic, where there are plenty of barracudas (Sphyraena), Viejas (Cichlidae), sargos (Diplodus sargus sargus) and rays, which turn diving this islet into an authentic and unique show of colour and diversity.

In the African coast, to the South of the Saharan lands, we can find one of the few settlements of monk seals, gathering around 100 specimens. From time to time, some of them can be caught sight of from the East of our Archipelago, as these wonderful animals seem not to have forgotten their old home.

FuerteCharter´s setting

As we said in the introduction of this blog, living in an island like Fuerteventura is a real stroke of luck. Anywhere you look at nature offers you spectacular sights.

FuerteCharter is lucky to carry out its daily activity — boat trips on Kayak, SUP and Snorkel— in the north-east of the Island of Fuerteventura, in the coastal town of Corralejo.

Corralejo —a town of seafarers that life turned into the most visited tourist site in the North of the island —is the link between Fuerteventura and our neighbour island, Lanzarote, from which “El estrecho de la Bocaina” separates us (15km), and in the middle of these two islands, wild and isolated, the islet of “Lobos” stands out. It seems that in ancient geological ages “El estrecho de la Bocaina” didn’t exist and the two island — as well as the islet of “Lobos” — made up a single tract of land.

The strait offers perfect conditions for sailing, due to the trade winds channelling, so this is the favourite daily route of FuerteCharter which, depending on the conditions, offers either trips to Lobos or journeys to the neighbour island, Lanzarote.
The branch of sea that separates Fuerteventura from Lobos is a canal known as “El Río”. It’s located 2km away from Corralejo, and its waters aren’t deeper than 10m.

The islet of “Lobos”, with an area of 6km2 and a maximum height of 127m at the volcanic cone of “La Caldera”, took its name from the ancient inhabitants of its coasts: a colony of monk and fur seals. This islet has a unique landscape and it is part of the Natural Park “Dunas de Corralejo”, a beauty which doesn’t leave indifferent to visitors and residents alike.  It’s an area of great wealth and biological value — land as well as sea bed, and it has been declared marine reserve— which we’ll describe more in detail in next articles, where we’ll tell you about the lighthouse-keeper —Antoñito—  and his family, who inhabited it until 1968, about its marine species, its wetlands, its beach of “La Concha” and its pretty little harbour.

Another of the charms we can highlight in this area are the different recommended scuba diving spots, like “El Veril del Calamareo”, with vaults and caves and corridors among rocks, “El Veril de La Bocaina”, “El Bajón del Río”, with a mix of rock and pristine sand, “El punto de los Becerros”, standing out because of the great amount of fish, and the area of “La Carrera”, with little currents and very protected from the winds.

No doubt, FuerteCharter enjoys a great privilege. Would you like to come and share it with us?

FuerteCharter’s team

FuerteCharter: more than a sailing trip

If you walk along Corralejo’s Wharf you will probably meet Ildefonso Chacón — better known as Fonfo—, a sea lover from the North of Fuerteventura, and the manager of our company FuerteCharter.

The relationship of Fonfo with the sea started when he was very young, as despite being from Puerto del Rosario his parents always had a house in Corralejo, in Waikiki beach. So, being knee-high to a grasshopper he had his first boat and in the different stages of his youth he practised all the water sports he found in his way.

Fonfo remembers the years when Fuerteventura, mainly Corralejo, was a desert paradise, with waves for the few people who dared ride them, and he also remembers some athletes visiting the islands, famous nowadays — like Björn Dunkerbeck — who were not but children then, displaying water tricks that majorero inhabitants could not have imagined.

They were other times, as he says, and although the deep solitude of the desert landscape hardly exists nowadays he is delighted with an island full of visitors and residents from so many different nationalities who have done their bit — and keep doing it — to enrich this paradise that his Island, Fuerteventura, is.

His sea calling, as we have said, took place when he was very young: we could say that salty water flows in his veins. And so did the business calling, as his charter company Fuertecharter, which nowadays is about to become 10, stemmed from other family companies: Deportes Chacón and Naútica Chacón.

At present Fonfo runs FuerteCharter together with his wife Inma Morales, also accompanied by an excellent working team, whom he is sincerely thankful for taking Fuertecharter to what it is nowadays: a charter company in Corralejo with many added values.

FuerteCharter’s main aim is to share with our clients —and infect them with— our love for the sea. It’s not all just about taking them on a sailing trip to Lobos, it’s not just about enjoying that sailing trip and the wonders of nature but about going beyond that, encouraging them to get challenges they had never considered before, offering them different activities like learning how to use a kayak, a SUP, breathing through a snorkel tube, having a bath surrounded by schools of fish, feeding them… Being open to learning new things every day!

In order to carry out these activities, Fuertecharter counts on two different kinds of vessels: a catamaran and an inflatable motor boat to rent for private sailing trips (closed groups) as well as for open groups. The experience and the knowledge of the area turn the combination of both vessels in the same trip into the best way of visiting our neighbour island, as apart from the incomparable sailing trip around Lobos Island, the inflatable motor boat will let you explore the little ponds in this place, a true paradise, difficult to describe with words.

We can go on to talk about Fuertecharter’s professionalism and pampering when dealing with all those people embarking on their adventures, but the best thing is that you come to try and tell other people about it. We’ll be waiting for you!

FuerteCharter’s team

Prickle pears: Fuerteventura landscape

Fuerteventura’s landscape is distinguished by its desert expanse. Kilometres of land that are presented to the eye and as endless plains where the sight gets lost, interrupted by some hills, volcanoes, mountains and “malpaises”.

However, so much flat arid terrain is often dotted with cactus, painting of green the most curious corners on this island of the wind.

The prickle pear cactus, as Opuntia cactus are called in the Canaries, are shrubby plants belonging to the genus of cacti.

ORIGIN AND DISTRIBUTION
There are around 250 subspecies of Opuntias and they all come from America, although in Europe many of them have been naturalized and are considered invasive.

They can be distributed from sea level to 3000 meters high.

In the Canaries, the first non-American territory where they were grown, there are two of these subspecies considered invasive and they have been naturalized on islands

  • Opuntia ficus
  • Opuntia dillenii

The other subspecies can be sometimes found scattered on the edges of roads or around detached houses.

 

MORPHOLOGY
The main feature of prickle pear cacti is growing in segments, called cladodes or “blades”, from which other cladodes sprout, as well as flowers, and also producing the delicious fruit: figs.

Cladodes have areolas, which are small lumps from which glochids arise, clusters of small thorns.

They can have very different sizes, from small bushes, shrubs or even treelike structure.

We will speak specifically about the invasive species in the Canary Islands (Opuntia ficus and Opuntia dillenii), which are those that give us such delicious fruit: the so called “higo pico”, “higo picón” or “tuno”, and which are also responsible for the large number of cochineal which introduced The Canary Islands into the dye industry, as these insects, dried and used to produce carmine dye, abundantly proliferate in the prickle pear cactus.

OPUNTIA FICUS
This subspecies is known as “tunera común” and it features “blades” between 30 and 50cm, with not many little thorns. Adult “blades” may even not have thorns at all. Typically they reach 3-4 meters high.

Some people make a subtle difference between “Opuntia ficus-indica” or “Opuntia maxima”, which is the most abundant, and “Opuntia ficus-barbarica”, which have fewer thorns, but the difference is not that noticeable, not even professionals agree.

Excursiones Fuertecharter | Tuneras en Fuerteventura
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Excursiones Fuertecharter | Tuneras en Fuerteventura
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OPUNTIA DILLENII
Also known as Indian “tunera/penca” or “ink”. It features “blades” which are smaller than that of the “tunera común”, between 20 and 30 cm. The areolas have between 6 and 8 strong yellow thorns. They usually reach 2 meters high and the fruit pulp is typically red. It isn’t usual to find it above 300m of altitude, so it predominates in the coastal area.

Excursiones Fuertecharter | Tuneras en Fuerteventura

Excursiones Fuertecharter | Tuneras en Fuerteventura
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TIPS TO CATCH PRICKLE PEARS WITHOUT PRICKLING ONE’S FINGERS
It is recommended catch “tunos” upwind, to prevent it from thrusting the thorns towards us. Also, using tongs and, once caught, throwing them to the ground and sweep them, or rubbing them against other resinous plant, so that thorns stick together. Hence it is advisable to put them under running water to remove any remaining thorns.

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Fuertecharter Team

 

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