Box 9021, Wilmington, DE 19809, USA
Phone: Toll-free in USA 1-888-721-3555
noting what's been seen during
Focus On Nature Tours
in the Canary Islands
with an (*)
Photo at upper
left: Short-finned Pilot Whales
Found on or by the following islands:
GC: Gran Canaria
LA: La Gomera
LA: La Palma
(i) introduced species in the Canaries
SPECIES CLASSIFIED AS "THREATENED" GLOBALLY:
(t1): critically endangered
(nt): classified as near-threatened
(ph): species with a photo in the FONT website
Links within this List:
Land Mammals Marine
Upcoming FONT Tours in the Canary Islands
Narrative of a Previous FONT Canary Islands Tour
Birds of the Canary Islands
Butterflies of the Canary Islands
Amphibians & Reptiles of the Canary Islands
Interesting Plants of the Canary Islands
Directory of Photos in this Website
- Algerian Hedgehog (i) (*) ______ LZ
Erinaceus (formerly Atelerix) algirus
- European Rabbit (*) ______ LZ,TE
cuniculus (the single member
of its genus)
- Western House Mouse (i) (*) ______ TE
- Black Rat (i) (*) ______ TE
- Canary Shrew (*) ______ LZ
The Canary Shrew is endemic to the eastern Canary Islands, where it is
found only in lava fields and rocky areas of Lanzarote,
where it was seen during our June '09 tour, and on Fuerteventura, and the
small islets of Lobos and Mt Clara.
- Wild Goat (i) (*) ______ LZ
Capra aegagrus (was split from the Domestic Goat, Capra
hircus, in 1999)
- Dromedary (i) (*) ______ LZ
The island of La Gomera, during recent years, has had the highest
of offshore marine mammal species sighted.
- Short-finned Pilot Whale (ph) (*) ______
GC LG LP TE
Short-finned Pilot Whales
all year off Tenerife and La Gomera. It occurs at a further distance off the
coast of Garn Canaria. It is somewhat frequently seen off La Palma. It is
often seen off Fuerteventura.
- Common Dolphin (ph) (*) ______
GC LG LP TE
The Common Dolphin is seen
infrequently off Tenerife, and seasonally off Gran Canaria. It is often seen
off La Gomera, and somewhat frequently seen off La Palma. It is common off
- Bottlenose Dolphin (ph) (*) ______
LG LP TE
all year off Tenerife, Gran Canaria, and La Gomera. It is frequently seen
off La Palma, and is common off Fuerteventura.
- Atlantic Spotted Dolphin ______
GC LG LP
Atlantic Spotted Dolphins
seasonally off Tenerife and Gran Canaria. It is very common off La Gomera,
and is somewhat frequently seen off La Palma.
- Striped Dolphin ______ GC LP TE
The Striped Dolphin is seen
infrequently off Tenerife, and seasonally off Gran Canaria. It is
sporadically seen off La Palma.
- Rough-toothed Dolphin ______ GC LG
The Rough-toothed Dolphin is seen
infrequently off Tenerife. It is a resident off Gran Canaria. It is very
common off La Gomera and frequently seen off La Palma.
- Risso's Dolphin (ph) ______
The Risso's Dolphin is seen, at
times, off Fuerteventua.
- Killer Whale (or Orca)
(ph) ______ FV
are often seen off
- Great Sperm Whale (t3) (ph) ______
The Great Sperm Whale is
seen infrequently off Tenerife and La Gomera, and just occasionally off Gran
Canaria. It is sporadically seen off La Palma. It is often seen off
- Northern Right Whale (t2) (ph) ______
The Northern Right Whale has been
seen rarely off Tenerife and La Gomera.
- Humpback Whale (t3) (ph) ______
The Humpback Whale is seen
infrequently off Tenerife.
- Bryde's Whale ______ GC LG
The Bryde's Whale
seasonally occurs off Tenerife. It occurs at a further distance off the
coast of Gran Canaria. It is very common off La Gomera. It is
sporadically seen off La Palma.
- Sei Whale (t2) ______ LG LP TE
The Sei Whale is seen infrequently off
Tenerife and La Gomera. It is sporadically seen off La Palma.
- Fin Whale (t2) (ph) ______ LG LP TE
The Fin Whale seasonally occurs off Tenerife
and La Gomera. It is sporadically seen off La Palma.
- Blue Whale (t2) (ph) ______
Balaenoptera m. musculus (the subspecies in the North
Atlantic & North Pacific Oceans; 2 other subspecies are in the Southern
Historically, the Blue Whale has rarely been seen
off La Gomera.
- Blainsville's Beaked Whale ______
LG LP TE
The Blainsville's Beaked Whale occurs
seasonally off Tenerife and La Gomera. It is sporadically seen off La Palma.
- Cuvier's Beaked Whale (ph) ______
LG LP TE
The Cuvier's Beaked Whale occurs seasonally
off Tenerife and La Gomera. It is sporadically seen off La
- Mediterranean Monk Seal (t1) (ph)
______ (now extinct in the Canary Islands)
In the Canary Islands, there was a population of one of the most
endangered animals in the world, and the second rarest of the world's
pinnipeds, the Mediterranean Monk Seal. A very small number still
exist in the Madeira Islands.
Code: refers to page
with illustration in the book "A Field Guide to Coastal Fishes, from
Maine to Texas" by Val Kells & Kent Carpenter
- Parrot Fish ______
Spaisoma (Euscarus) cretense
The Parrotfish is the most well-known fish species
around the island of Fuerteventura. It is a sexually dimorphic species, with
the female being brightly decorated with red, yellow, and blue, while the
male is a drab grayish brown.
While juveniles are often seen alone, larger "viejas" group
together, sometimes in schools of several hundred, to feed on rocky bottoms
to a depth of 50 meters.
The species feeds on invertebrates and especially crabs, relying on
prominent beak-like teeth.
The most characteristic Canarian fish, much sought after by divers and
fisherman alike, the Parrotfish, or "Vieja", remains
an important commercial species despite heavy overfishing. A reduction in
the use of nasa fish traps has brought about an increase in the population
around Gran Canaria. It is traditionally fished for from small craft using
salted crabs on large hooks and a rod tipped with a stingray
In Ports & Harbors:
A light shone down harbor walls can reveal
goldfish-like Cardinalfish with the larger red and white Glasseyes,
which have large eyes that glow in the light.
Black and silver Bream or "Sargos" are much more
active at night, and large, mixed groups can often be located with a light.
A visit to a fishing port in the evening is a good way of seeing some of the
deeper water and sport fish landed in the islands. Traditional fishing boats
bring in varied catches, caught either with fish traps called "nasas",
nets, or longlines.
One can look out for the multi-colored Parrotfish or "Viejas",
hogfish, and the grotesque but very tasty Scorpionfish.
Larger fishing boats and bog game boats catch a variety of tuna, sharks,
swordfish and marlins, bluefish, and large bream and grouper.
- Golden Mullet ______
The Golden Mullet is the most common of several mullet
species around Fuerteventura. It is often seen in harbors and close to
shore. Large shools are often encountered and large specimens can be found
in very shallow water.
An algae and debris feeder, it can be attracted with bread. The fish is not
consumed in the Canaries, but it is challenging to
- Yellowmouth Barracuda ______
The Yellowmouth Barracuda is the most common large predator in the coastal waters of
Fuerteventura. It often forms large schools. It is mostly frequently found
in harbors and by steep cliffs but smaller numbers can be found almost
A voracious predator of small fish, the Barracuda is a significant
sport and commercial fish species.
Yellowmouth Barracudas around Fuerteventura are not aggressive. There
has not been any recorded attack by a Barracuda on a human in the
The Yellowmouth Barracuda can be up to a meter and a half in length.
Groups in harbors tend to swim in shoals of from 10 to as many as 200. The
species can be recognized by their elongated shape and pointed
- Black Damselfish ______
Small but spectacular, the Black Damselfish is found
almost everywhere around Fuerteventura, but especially over rocky and weedy
bottoms in shallow water. Its bright blue color and trusting nature make it
a diver's favorite.
It can sometimes be tempted to feed from the hand, and is often seen along
harbor walls and in rockpools.
Males develop orange patches during the breeding
- Ornate Wrasse (or Pejeverde) ______
The Ornate Wrasse is one of the most common and beautiful
fish in Canarian waters. It is often found in mixed shools along with the Black
Damselfish and the Band-tail Chromis.
It is found everywhere over pure sand bottoms from the inter-tidal zone down
to depths of 200 meters. Males are longer with more distinctive coloration
and, like many wrasses, the species can change its sex.
- Giant Manta Ray (nt) ______
At night, Giant Manta Rays sometimes come into harbors to
feed around lights.
- Reef Manta Ray ______
Two verified reports and photographs of the Reef Manta Ray off
the Canary islands and the Cape Verde Islands, and historical reports and
photographs off the coast of Senegal in northwest Africa (1958), are the
only evidence of the Reef Manta Ray in the Atlantic Ocean.
- Glasseye Snapper ______ (FGCF:227)
The Glasseye is common, but nocturnal. During the day, it
hides in caves. It does allow divers to approach closely. It can be common
in the crevices of harbor walls and man-made structures.
Like the "Vieja", or Parrotfish, the Glasseye
is susceptible to crustacean parasites. It is an attractive species that is
of limited interest as a sport fish.
- Cardinal Fish ______
The Cardinal Fish is a common nocturnal species that hides in caves and
crevices during the day. It is attractive enough to have great potential as
a coldwater marine aquarium species.
It is the male of the Cardinal Fish that incubates the eggs, in his
The Cardinal Fish is a pest for night fisherman, as its large mouth and
strong bite make it a bait stealer and nuisance.
- Wreckfish ______
The Wreckfish is a deep-sea species. It is an important commercial
and food fish in the Canary Islands.
It occurs in depths between 200 and 800 meters.
Most Wreckfish caught in the Canaries are much smaller than the
- Barred Hogfish ______
Bodianus (formerly Pseudolepidaplois) scrofa
The Barred Hogfish is found on rocky and mixed bottoms
down to 150 meters. it is an important species for traditional fishermen,
even though it is listed as a threatened species.
It is an attractive fish, but it is not often seen by snorkelers as it
prefers deeper waters. It is often seen in the mixed catch of small fishing
vessels arriving back in port on Fuerteventura.
In the Open Ocean:
From ferries between the Canary Islands, in addition to various seabirds,
marine mammals, and sea turtles, other oceanic creatures that
can be sighted include: Blue Sharks, Hammerhead Sharks, Portuguese Man of
War Jellyfish, flying fish, and Manta Rays.
- Garfish ______
Belone belone gracilis
Small schools of curious Garfish appear close to shore
around Fuerteventura during the summer months. Rarely seen more than a few
centimeters from the surface of the water, the Garfish is often
missed by divers and snorkelers.
The fish is good eating despite its slender build and green bones.
- Skipjack Tuna ______
The Skipjack Tuna is a small, schooling tuna that runs in
Canary Islands waters through the summer and autumn. It is an important
commercial and sporting species, the Skipjack Tuna is traditionally
caught with rod and line from small offshore craft.
The Skipjack Tuna is a voracious fish-eater that is particularly fond
- Albacore ______
The Albacore is one of several large pelagic and
epipelagic Tunnid species common in Canarian waters at certain times
of year, along with the Yellowfin, Big-eye, and Bluefin Tunas.
All are important commercial and sport fish and can be caught from chartered
sports fishing craft in the south of Gran Canaria island.
- White Trevally (or Guelly
The White Trevally is an epipelagic to pelagic species
found down to depths of 100 meters. It is a powerful predatory fish at the
top of the coastal food chain.
Once a common species, the White Trevally has been overfished to the
point where it is now rarely seen. Juveniles are sometimes still found
around mooring buoys and sometimes "adopt" divers and snorkelers,
as well as large fish such as the Saddled Bream.
- Atlantic Chub Mackerel ______ (FGCF:381)
The Atlantic Chub Mackerel is one of two mackerel
species present in Canarian waters at certain times of year along with the
Frigate Tuna. Both are fished commercially and are good fishing from
Large schools of small Atlantic Chub Mackerel are sometimes found
close to shore often in the company of Bogues.
- Blue Marlin ______
The Blue Marlin is an oceanic species reaching 650
kilograms. It is quite common around the Canary Islands and is an important
Several Blue Marlin records have been broken around the archipelago,
and the waters of the Canaries are famous for their large specimens.
Chartered fishing boats operating from the harbors of Fuerteventura seek out
The physically similar Swordfish is also occasionally caught although
it prefers warmer waters.
- Tropical Two-wing Flyingfish ______
The Tropical Two-wing Flying Fish is a curious species
found in small groups close to the surface of the water. It is capable of
leaping clear of the water and ""flying"" up to 100
meters using its elongated pectoral fins.
The Tropical Two-wing Flying Fish is a plankton feeder that is hunted
by Tuna. it is often seen flying away from boats and ferries around
Close to Shore:
- Salema Porgy ______
The Salema Porgy is one of the most frequently encountered
fish in Fuerteventuran waters. It forms large uniform schools close to the
In bright light, the Salema Porgy appears blue with fine yellow
stripes. It is a grazing species whose abundance may be due to its
The fish is attracted to bread and is not afraid of divers bearing
- Bogue (a species of seabream) ______
The Bogue is a very common species that has benefitted
from the overfishing of predators. Thus, the Bogue population can
assume almost plague proportions in some areas.
It is rarely eaten as it has traditionally been considered a dirty fish that
feeds on the corpses of fishermen.
The Bogue is found in open water down to 250 meters. It is used as a
bait fish for Tuna fishing.
- Rock Goby ______
- Montagu's Blenny ______
- Triplefin ______
- Rubber Eye ______
Ophioblennius atlanticus atlanticus
- Cleaver Wrasse ______
- Herrera ______
- Lizard Fish ______
- Greater Weever ______
- Flounder ______
Bothus podas maderensis
- Yellow Trigger Fish ______
- Red Mullet ______
- Short-snouted Seahorse ______
A very good book about Seahorses, and an enjoyable
read, is "Poseidon's Steed, the Story of Seahorses, from Myth to
Reality", by Helen Scales, Gotham Books, 2009.
- Dusky Grouper ______
- Comb Grouper ______
- Band-tail Chromis ______
- Bastard Grunt ______
- African Striped Grunt ______
- Sharpnose Pufferfish ______
- Scorpionfish ______
- Lime Urchin ______
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