Diving with Endangered Species in Gran Canaria

dive with turtles gran canaria
dusky grouper in the canaries
diving with angel sharks gran canaria
dive with mobula rays gran canaria
diving with sharks gran canaria
diving with sharks gran canaria

Sadly, marine environments are under threat. For years, overfishing, careless disposal of bycatches, pollution and relentless pressure on Marine Environments and breeding habitats has led to a decline in many Marine Species. We have compared the main species found in the Canaries to the IUCN 'Red List of threatened Specias', and the result is six endangered species which, if you are lucky, you can see while diving in the Canary Islands, especially in the Marine Reserve in Arinaga.

The Red List has several categories, and based on published materials we have correlated lists of species seen in the Canaries with the different categories, to give you an idea of the threatened species you could see on you Gran Canaria Diving excursions.

In addition, the Canarian Government has issued a list of species which it believes are in danger, which covers birds, animals, plants and marine species. Sadly for marine species it has relatively few of the species flagged by the Red List, but we believe that future revisions will be more comprehensive in their cover.

Critically Endangered Species

Common NameScientific NameEncountersStatus
Monk SealMonachus monachusNo- now extinct in CanariesCritically Endangered
Angel SharkSquatina squatinaYes - frequentCritically Endangered
Giant Devil RayMobula mobularYes - in selected dive sites and timesEndangered
Dusky GrouperEpinephelus marginatusYes - frequentEndangered
Island GrouperMycteroperca fuscaYes - Almost DailyEndangered
Loggerhead TurtleCaretta carettaYes but infrequentlyEndangered
Green TurtleChelonia mydasnever seenEndangered
Butterfly RayGymnura altavelaYes - inferquentVulnerable
SeahorseHippocampus hippocampusYes - inferquentinterés para los ecosistemas canarios


Angelsharks can often be found while scuba diving in sandy areas around Gran Canaria
NameAngel Shark : (squatina squatina)
StatusCRITICALLY ENDANGERED
Habitatlives on sandy bottoms
ThreatsBiggest threat is being taken as by-catch from trawling, but the very slow reproductive cycle means that it is not recovering and is classed as extinct in the North Sea
EncountersIn the Canaries, where bottom trawling is less common, the species is surviving and can be found almost daily. Some sites have distinct seasonality In Arinaga, the best times to see them are from late November to the end of July, when they can be seen almost daily as individuals. Multiple sightings are unusual. It is more active at night so are often seen during night dives.
IUCN reference pageThe IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. www.iucnredlist.org Downloaded on 14 May 2015.


The angel shark is most often encountered asleep or resting in the sand. They cover themselves with a thin layer and wait for their favourite food (Bogas boops boops) to come to them. They are not aggressive towards divers unless disturbed and will generally avoid contact with divers. They prefer the sand to the rocky outcrops and can grow up to 1.5m long. We have been studying these amazing creatures for several years and we have a separate page devoted to Angel Sharks and the results from the surveys we carried out in conjunction with the University of Las Palmas
The Mobula ray can be found at feeding points in autumn in the Canaries
NameGiant Devil Ray: (Mobula mobular)
StatusEndangered
HabitatSandy open areas with plenty of room. They feed mainly on plankton and small crustaceons and small fish.
ThreatsFishing by-catch and loss of their food chain
EncountersManta rays can be seen very infrequently but almost anywhere around Gran Canaria by divers, but the one place where they are regularly seen is in the north near Sardina del Norte. In late summer and early autumn they tend to come in to feed around evening time, and then they form a magnificent sight as the soundlessly glide past, over and round divers as they chase the plankton in the sea at that time of year.
IUCN reference pageThe IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. www.iucnredlist.org Downloaded on 14 May 2015.


dusky grouper
NameDusky Grouper :(Epinephelus marginatus)
StatusEndangered
HabitatRocky shorelines with sandy botttoms
ThreatsFishing, both commercial and recreational, especially spear fishing
EncountersSome individuals in protected areas grow very large and become rather amiable towards divers. Some areas such as El Hierro have redidents who enjoy being photographed, but in other areas predatory fishing has removed the biggest examples from the local environment. In the last couple of years numbers have been improving in Arinaga and it is quite common to find them hiding under big boulders now if you know where to look.
IUCN reference pageThe IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. www.iucnredlist.org Downloaded on 14 May 2015.


Adabe or Island Grouper chasing bogas in Gran Canaria dive hotspot
NameIsland Grouper :(Mycteroperca fusca)
StatusEndangered
HabitatRocky shorelines with sandy botttoms
ThreatsFishing, both commercial and recreational, especially spear fishing
EncountersOver the last few years, the population in Arinaga changed from abundant, to scarce, and in the last two years back to regular. They seem to act as a gang or pack, herding smaller fish towards the leaders who then pick off their prey. Often you will spot an individual lurking in the shadows of a rock, using his black / gray colouring to merge into the background. This species is also one of the small number of endemic species, only found in the Canaries, Azores and Cape Verde Islands.
IUCN reference page. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. www.iucnredlist.org Downloaded on 14 May 2015.


 

A rare closeup of a turtle with divers in Gran Canaria
NameLoggerhead Turtle:(Caretta caretta)
StatusEndangered
HabitatSandy bottoms, seagrass
ThreatsLarge fishing nets, loss of breeding beaches, boat accidents, rubbish in the water
EncountersIt is quite rare to get a good look at a turtle underwater in the Canaries. They have good eysight and hearing and tend to avoid contact, and rarely stay long in one place. Like many of the others species the bigger individuals can be long lived, but they are becoming more scarce
IUCN reference page. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. www.iucnredlist.org Downloaded on 14 May 2015.


Sea Horse - Gran Canaria Diving
NameSeahorse : (Hippocampus hippocampus)
Statusinterés para los ecosistemas canarios; International trade regulated under CITES II ;IUCN -insufficient data
HabitatSea floor with vegetation
ThreatsLoss of habitat, historic trade in individuals
EncountersHard to find, and seem to change their locations frequently. There are certain locations such as El Cabrón, Sardinia and Taliarte where they are often seen, but they then often disappear for long periods as well.
Catálogo Canario de Especies Protegidas.IUCN reference page. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. www.iucnredlist.org Downloaded on 14 May 2015.

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