Canarias: Intro

A few days on the island of Gran Canaria (Canary Islands), I already feel at home. I must admit that the first impressions I got right after landing on the island were not so soothing. Even though everything seemed so chaotic, I have soon realised that the life here is very chill and people simply know how to flow. What struck me the most was definitely the way people think. I had the fortune to meet open and like minded people with whom I am spending the time.

Credit: Aja Trebec (26/07/2020)

Already on the first day we went walking around Las Palmas in the morning and then swimming on the South of the island in the afternoon. Originally we were supposed to go free diving but here the currents are very strong and the swell high. On the second day, however, the sea was more of a friend than an enemy, so we managed to go freediving to Playa de Las Canteras. The waters were full of ornate wrasses (Thalassoma pavo), a fish species native to the Mediterranean Sea and eastern Atlantic Ocean, swimming above the sea beds of a green algae known by the latin name Cymopolia barbata.

A few meters deeper and further from the coast, I managed to get a look of the common octopus (Octopus vulgaris) hiding under a rock. On the more rocky part of the sea floor, I noticed a few individuals of the zebra seabream (Diplodus cervinus cervinus) which are very common on the Canary Islands but not as much in the Mediterranean Sea. One hour into the dive, I started to play with a sole fish, or the tapaculo as Spanish people call it, but I soon left it to live calmly.

Towards the end of the week, a few flat mates and I decided to hit the road and go towards the South and sleep on a beach overnight. The South is always sunny and much hotter than the North which is covered by this enormous cloud called “the belly of the donkey,” during the summer months. Anyhow, on one of the playas where we stopped, I saw the spotted sea hare (Aplysia dactylomela) belonging to the class of Gastropoda. It is a sea snail with circumtropical distribution, meaning that you can find it on rocky grounds of tropical and subtropical ecosystems, including the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian Ocean, the Carribean and the Red Sea. Luckily, I did not touch it because otherwise it would shoot out a cloud of violet ink.

Aplysia dactylomela

Moving further to the South, we took all of our belongings and passed down a barranco, which in english means ravine, in order to arrive at la Playa de Tiritaña. We set our own corner and went for a swim. It was already late so I decided to free dive the morning after.

We passed the last hours of the day talking and looking at the starry sky, surprised by the incredibly curious sounds of an endemic marine seabird called Pardela cenicienta.

Credit: Cadenaser

This bird is pelagic, meaning that it comes near the coast only for reproduction. In fact, it is silent at sea but when it approaches the coast, it produces quite high nasal and guttural sounds. One of my flat mates, and now dear friends, told me that these birds can get quite aggressive, if you invade their space. He told me that one day while camping with friends, la Pardela started throwing rocks at them to make them go away.

In the morning, however, I got into the water with the mask and spent a long time playing with pompano fish (Trachinotus ovatus), which kept circling around me. I wanted to go towards the rocky parts of la playa but the water was a bit rough. I hope I will have the chance to revisit that la playa some other time since there are angel sharks (Squatina squatina) inhabiting those waters.

Hoping that you have learned some general information about the Gran Canaria, I will continue to explore these stunning areas and update you throughout the next two or three months.

Hasta luego!

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