Diving with Endangered Species in Gran Canaria

COVID-19 Diving Centre Update

The dive centre will be open again from 1st July! The Canary Islands have had some of the lowest infection rates in Spain, and new infections are now minimal. This makes us one of the safest holiday diving destinations in these changed times.

We have implementing lots of small procedure changes to make it safe for everyone, and are looking forward to diving with you all again soon. Use our contact form to reserve your place as one of our changes is a reduced number of divers each day.

See our short Diving in Gran Canaria You-tube channel  Question & Answer video about diving during the CoronaVirus.

See our COVID-19 Plans.

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 'Listado de Especies Silvestres en Régimen de Protección Especial y Catálogo Español de Especies Amenazadas'(Spanish National list of protected species) and IUCN 'Red List of threatened Specias', and the result is nine 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. The National Spanish list is however no more in line with the Red List.

Critically Endangered Species

Common Name Scientific Name Encounters Status
Monk Seal Monachus monachus No- now extinct in Canaries Critically Endangered
Angel Shark Squatina squatina Yes - frequent Critically Endangered and Listado de Especies Silvestres en Régimen de Protección Especial
Giant Devil Ray Mobula mobular Yes - in selected dive sites and times Endangered - Listado de Especies Silvestres en Régimen de Protección Especial
Dusky Grouper Epinephelus marginatus Yes - frequent Endangered
Island Grouper Mycteroperca fusca Yes - Almost Daily Endangered
Loggerhead Turtle Caretta caretta Yes but infrequently Vulnerable -Listado de Especies Silvestres en Régimen de Protección Especial
Green Turtle Chelonia mydas never seen Vulnerable - Listado de Especies Silvestres en Régimen de Protección Especial
Butterfly Ray Gymnura altavela Yes - infrequent Listado de Especies Silvestres en Régimen de Protección Especial
Seahorse Hippocampus hippocampus Yes - infrequent Listado de Especies Silvestres en Régimen de Protección Especial
Spiny Pufferfish Yes - frequent Vulnerable - Listado de Especies Silvestres en Régimen de Protección Especial



Angel sharks


Angelsharks can often be found while scuba diving in sandy areas around Gran Canaria
Name Angel Shark : (squatina squatina)
Status CRITICALLY ENDANGERED
Habitat lives on sandy bottoms
Threats Biggest 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
Encounters In 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.
Listado de Especies Silvestres en Régimen de Protección Especial en España Spanish national list of protected species.


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

Giant Devil Ray


The Mobula ray can be found at feeding points in autumn in the Canaries
Name Giant Devil Ray: (Mobula mobular)
Status Endangered
Habitat Sandy open areas with plenty of room. They feed mainly on plankton and small crustaceons and small fish.
Threats Fishing by-catch and loss of their food chain
Encounters Manta 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


dusky grouper
Name Dusky Grouper :(Epinephelus marginatus)
Status Endangered
Habitat Rocky shorelines with sandy botttoms
Threats Fishing, both commercial and recreational, especially spear fishing
Encounters Some 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.



Island Grouper


Adabe or Island Grouper chasing bogas in Gran Canaria dive hotspot
Name Island Grouper :(Mycteroperca fusca)
Status Endangered
Habitat Rocky shorelines with sandy botttoms
Threats Fishing, both commercial and recreational, especially spear fishing
Encounters Over 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.


 


Loggerhead Turtle


A rare closeup of a turtle with divers in Gran Canaria
Name Loggerhead Turtle:(Caretta caretta)
Status Endangered
Habitat Sandy bottoms, seagrass
Threats Large fishing nets, loss of breeding beaches, boat accidents, rubbish in the water
Encounters It 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.



Seahorse


Sea Horse - Gran Canaria Diving
Name Seahorse : (Hippocampus hippocampus)
Status interés para los ecosistemas canarios; International trade regulated under CITES II ;IUCN -insufficient data
Habitat Sea floor with vegetation
Threats Loss of habitat, historic trade in individuals
Encounters Hard 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.



Spiny Pufferfish


Gran Canaria Diving with Spiny Pufferfish
Name Spiny Pufferfish : (Chilomycterus atringa)
Status interés para los ecosistemas canarios; ;IUCN -insufficient data
Habitat Small caves, under big rocks
Threats Loss of habitat, historic persecution by fishermen
Encounters Principally nocturnal, they often seem to find a personal 'home' during the day and then are seen there for a period but can then move on to another location. At night they come out and start moving around in search of sea urchins, their major food. El Cabrón is probably the only place in Gran Canaria where these enormous fish can be seen with certainty, and in the last few years the population has grown steadily to about 8-10 individuals in 2018. They are now often seen on night dives as well. This individual ('Alpha') can be recognised by the severe bend in his back which makes his tail lower than his head.
Catálogo Canario de Especies Protegidas.

If you found this interesting, have a look at Birds and Animals found underwater in Gran Canaria on our blog - 'Gran Canaria Diving hints and tips'.

Remember our FLEXI-BOOK offers!
NO Deposit, Cancellation or Change fees!

Discover more secrets of the best diving in Gran Canaria