Tag Archives: excursiones corralejo

Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta)

The Loggerhead Turtle or Caretta caretta is one of the 7 species of sea turtles spreading in warm, tropical and subtropical water oceans in the world, and one of the exceptional visitors of our coasts which we sometimes are lucky to come across in our trips from Corralejo to the islet of Lobos.

Sea turtles are prehistoric reptiles which date back 200 million years according to   some fossil records, although the species we know nowadays just date back 10-60 million years. They outlived their neighbours, the big dinosaurs.
Their main characteristic, common to all the sea turtle species, is the presence of a bony shell, formed by a carapace — upper part— and a ventral shell —lower part— covering all the guts very effectively, leaving enough room to let the head, extremities and tail out. These huge sea reptiles are well adapted to living in the sea (some male specimens can spend hours under water), but they keep needing air to breath and land in the breeding season.
The Loggerhead turtle or Caretta Caretta, also known as “Caguama” turtle, got this name due to the large size of its head, as compared to the rest of sea turtles.

They spend most of their life in the sea, in surface waters near the coast, around 13,3º and 28º.
Caretta caretta is the most cosmopolitan of all the sea turtles, and it’s spread all over the Atlantic, Indian, Pacific Oceans and the Mediterranean Sea, with a highest representation in the Southeast Coast of Northern America (Florida is the site where you can find the highest number of nests, more than 67.000 per year) followed by the coast of the Arabian Peninsula in the Indian Ocean, and the Western Coast of Australia.
In the Canary Islands, it’s the most relevant species we have and find all through the year, being mainly abundant in Spring and Summer. And as we have already said, sometimes it’s an exceptional travel companion in our boat trips from Corralejo.

Although there aren’t many data about sea turtles in general, as they are long-lived species with a very complex life-cycle, it’s known that Caretta caretta belongs to the Cheloniidae family, which dates back 40 million years. This family is shared by 5 more species: The Ridley turtle, The Olive Ridley turtle, The Hawksbill turtle, The Flatback sea turtle and the Green sea turtle; most of them are endangered species.

Morphology and identification
The Loggerhead turtle features the biggest hard shell of all the species (70-95cms.) Adult male specimens weigh among 80-200kgs, although there are records of 500kg specimens, and longer than 200cms.
It’s usually brown, with reddish shades, and a yellow hue is most common in edges and the ventral shell.
It features tear glands, behind the eyes, through which it gets rid of the excess salt they ingest when swallowing sea water. This makes it look, when it’s on earth, as if it were crying.
In young specimens it’s impossible to distinguish the sex through their external appearance. Adults feature some differences: males have a bigger head, longer tails and claws, shorter ventral shell and less curved carapace than females’.
They are omnivorous and they feed specially on marine invertebrates, but they also have strong jaws which allow them to crush crabs and molluscs.

One characteristic of this species, which keeps it bound to the land, is the need of females to approach the coast in order to dig their nests and lay their eggs there. It’s a species with a low breeding rate, as females apart from reaching their sexual maturity between the 17 and 33 years (they live between 47 and 67 years) they only lay eggs every two or three years. Moreover, out of all the eggs that hatch very few of them become adults.
For this reason, apart from the fact that many nesting beaches have disappeared, that many specimens die entangled in fishing gears, strangled in trawls, caught in plastic waste…, the Loggerhead turtle is considered an endangered species.

Fuertecharter-trips from corralejo

“El Proyecto Tortuga” exists In Fuerteventura since the year 2009, trying to reintroduce in The Islands a species that disappeared from our coasts 300 years ago by translocating Loggerhead’s eggs from Cape Verd.
The beach in charge of taking in these nests is “La Playa de Cofete”, in the South of the Island. The first year more than 500 turtles were born, which proved the excellent conditions of this beach to carry out such a project.
In our next article we’ll discuss this project in detail, a project which tries to contribute to the preservation of this species at a global level

FuerteCharter’s Team.

The houseleek in Lobos

If you are one of our island’s visitors you have thousands of ways to find out this wonderful paradise, but if you are a nature lover and its exclusive eccentricities, you can’t miss our trips from Corralejo to the islet of Lobos to watch some endemic species you won’t be able to find anywhere else in the world.

The Natural Park in the islet of Lobos is a paradise of a great biodiversity, where we can find endless endemic species from the Canary Islands. But if there is one that defines them better than any other else this is the houseleek in Lobos, or “Siempreviva de Laguna”, whose scientific name is Limonium ovalifolium ssp Canariensis, which you can only find in this islet. Limonium ovalifolium ssp Canariensis is a little herbaceous plant with a lax open leaf rosette made of egg-shaped very dense ribbed hairless leaves featuring dense spikes, more than 10 per centimetre, with 3 to 5 white flowers, small conical calyx and a jazzy blue leaf blade.

When it grows it forms big grass-like prairies. It is hermaphroditic and it seems to be apomictic, that is, asexual, it reproduces from unfertilised seeds spread by the calyx itself, causing a parachute effect. It blooms in April and September, and it reproduces in May and October. It’s a halophila species (living in environments with a high presence of salts), growing on a clay layer facing East. It’s spread along the whole salt marsh (sand bank and lagoon areas) in the east coast of the islet, and it’s abundant in the wettest areas. Every four weeks approximately it stays flooded for some hours, sometimes even for days.

There are records that this species also existed in Lanzarote and Fuerteventura, but at present, as we were saying, it only exists in the islet of Lobos, after having become extinct in these two islands. They take up approximately 18.000 m2, and they are estimated at around 103.512 specimens.

This endemic species is at risk of extinction. As its habitat is so reduced, any natural disaster or man intervention could bring it to an end immediately. For this reason, in the Natural Park of Lobos —known as ZEPA (special bird protection area), IBA (important area for birds) and LIC (common interest area)— there is surveillance and also restricted areas, as the simple fact of walking outside the paths could bring this species to an end. So, if you are one of our visitors, please, take special care with the instructions in the Natural Park.

-Fuertecharter-Corralejo trips 1

So as to avoid its becoming extinct, in “El Jardín Botánico Canario Viera y Clavijo” the experts cultivate this taxon in a controlled way, they keep the seeds and study their reproductive biology and genetic diversity so as to stop their extinction.

FuerteCharter‘s Team