Canaries

Articles in ‘Canaries’

California kingsnakes in Gran Canaria

October 23rd, 2013

lampropeltisanillada

The California kingsnake was introduced to Gran Canaria accidentally or deliberately several years ago from individuals bred in captivity. The snakes now represent a deadly threat to the Gran Canaria giant lizard (Gallotia stehlini) and Gran Canaria skink. See also: Californian snakes threaten Canarian biodiversity

Programme to contol the snake

Tenerife tsunami

April 21st, 2011 The northwest coast of Tenerife was destroyed by at least two massive tsunamis makes between 150,000 and 180,000 years ago. The waves towered 50 metres high and swept some 800 metres inland in an area of several square kilometers. There is no comparable risk of Tsunamis today on the island. El Mundo

Vultures followed humans to the Canaries

December 16th, 2010

Fascinating article in BMC Evolutionary Biology on the role of humans in helping the expansion of the Egyptian Vulture (Alimoche in Spanish, guirre in the Canaries) and its remarkably fast evolution into a sub-species (Neophron percnopterus majorensis).

Archaeological remains show that first colonizers were Berber people from northern Africa who imported goats. This new and abundant food source could have allowed vultures to colonize, expand and adapt to the island environment. Our results suggest that anthropogenic environmental change can induce diversification and that this process may take place on an ecological time scale (less than 200 generations), even in the case of a long-lived species. Full article here

Found on Crónica Verde: Los buitres llegaron a Canarias siguiendo a los hombres y sus cabras

Wikipedia on the Canarian vulture (above photo not the Canarian sub-species)

  • N. p. majorensis, the Canarian Egyptian Vulture, the largest subspecies with by far the smallest and most restricted population, is found only in the eastern Canary Islands where they are known by the name of guirre. Described as a new subspecies only in 2002, studies suggest that it is more genetically distant from N. p. percnopterus than N. p. ginginianus is. Unlike neighbouring populations in Africa and southern Europe, they are not migratory and are consistently larger in size. The name majorensis is derived from “Majorata”, the ancient name for the island of Fuerteventura. The island was named by Spanish conquerors in the 15th century after the “Majos”, the main native Guanche tribe there. A study suggests that the species colonized the island around 2500 years ago and the establishment of the population may have been aided by human colonization.
  • The population in the Canary Islands have been isolated from populations in Europe and Africa for a significant period of time and have declined greatly and are of particular concern due to their genetic distinctiveness. The Canarian Egyptian Vulture was historically common, occurring on the islands of La Gomera, Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura and Lanzarote. It is now restricted to Fuerteventura and Lanzarote, the two easternmost islands. The total population in 2000 was estimated at about 130 individuals, including 25–30 breeding pairs. The island birds appear to be more susceptible to infections. Island birds appear to accumulate significant amounts of lead from scavenging on hunted animal carcasses and the long-term effect of this poison at a sublethal level is not known although it alters the mineralization of their bones. In order to provide safe and uncontaminated food for nesting birds, attempts have been made to create “vulture restaurants” where carcasses are made available. These interventions however may also encourage opportunist predators and scavengers to concentrate at the site and pose a threat to nesting birds in the vicinity

An ancient dragon

October 19th, 2010

One of the weirdest trees growing naturally in Spain is the Dracaena draco, the Canary Islands Dragon Tree (Drago in Spanish). Reports of one thousand-year old specimens are somewhat exagerrated. The tree, shown above at Icod de los Vino, is thought to be the oldest in the islands at a sprightly 650 years.

The tree ‘s name has mythical origins: for his 11th labour, Hercules had to bring back three golden apples from the garden of the Hespérides, which is guarded by Landon, the hundred-headed dragon. Hercules killed Landon and his blood flowed out over the land, which began to sprout ‘dragon’ trees. Arkive. The origin of this tale lies in the tree’s resin: When the bark or leaves are cut they secrete a reddish resin, one of the sources of the substance known as Dragon’s blood.

Cory’s Shearwaters barbacued in Lanzarote

September 7th, 2010

Cory’s Shearwater (Calonectris diomedea) an endangered seabird, is under threat in Lanzarote, a World Biosphere Reserve, from unscrupulous restaurant-owning rogues selling them as “special chicken”. Thousands of shearwater chicks are being taken in Lanzarote and to a lesser extent Fuerteventura. The chicks are then being sold for as much 100 euros a go to punters wanting to try their “exotic” flesh”. Lanzarote is home to the second largest colony of Cory’s shearwaters in the world, and despite being a natural park, there is a woeful lack of suverlance, allowing the bird thieves to take their fill. Crónica Verde

Building craze threatens biosphere status of Lanzarote

July 7th, 2010 Many tourists travel to Lanzarote for nothing more than a sunny beach and a pitcher of sangria with a cliff-top view. But the Spanish Canary Island is also a Unesco biosphere site: an arid stretch of lava fields, salt marshes and coastal mountains where high-rises are taboo. And for decades, the island’s elegant-and-ecological style of tourism defied the…Read in The Independent

Californian snakes threaten Canarian biodiversity

June 6th, 2010

California kingsnakes (Lampropeltis getulus) released or escaped on Gran Canary are threatening the island’s biodiversity including the rare giant lizard of Gran Canary. Although 334 have been captured in the last two years, there are thought to be a population of some 1,000 still slithering around the island. It is now considered virtually impossible to extinguish them and efforts are limited to controlling their expansion. They are harmless to humans. More here

No snakes are native to the Canary Islands.

Lizard impaled by shrike

March 23rd, 2010

File:Shrike prey lizard.jpg

Spectacular image of a lizard impaled on a branch by a Great Southern Shrike (Lanius meridionalis Alcaudón Real in Spanish), in the La Geria region of Lanzarote. Lizards and small mammals are occassionally impaled by shrikes, though invertebrates are much more frequent victims. Photo by Yummifruitbat on Wikipedia.

Distribution in Spain “Reproductora en la mayor parte de la Península, pero
con distribución más laxa en las regiones de influencia atlántica y
cantábrica.” More here

14 killer whales spotted in the Canaries

June 24th, 2009


14 killer whales were observed yesterday for almost eight hours by scientists in the Canaries off Tenerife.
El Pais

New biosphere reserves for Spain

May 26th, 2009

Spain has been awarded with two new Biosphere Reserves: the island of Fuerteventura and its surrounding waters and Gerês-Xures, a natural area straddling Portugal and Orense, Spain. Spain now has 40 such reserves. In the photo, Dunas de Corrajeo, in northern Fuerteventura.

El Mundo