It is great to live in a paradise, mountains in the west, and beautiful vineyards in the fertile central plain in the east. And of course being surrounded by wonderful golden beaches and clear turquoise water. Mallorca is not only our but also the home of someone else. In the Balearic marine life we find creatures we rarely have the opportunity to see!
Balearic Marine Life
“The sea around Mallorca is home to many marine animal species like stingrays, groupers, octopuses and lots of echinoderms etc. But the true beauty lies in something only few tourists acknowledge and will see during their dive trips. The loggerhead sea turtle is a rare sight but surely a beautiful one!
One of the most special species to be found in the waters around the island is the loggerhead sea turtle.
“The loggerhead sea turtle is one of the seven species of marine turtles present in the world’s oceans, and the most common species found around Spain. Unfortunately, all seven species are endangered worldwide, being prone to ingest plastic waste, getting entangled in fishing nets or lines and involved in boat accidents”, says Manon Happach, Ocean Guide at Palma Aquarium.
The Balearic Islands constitute the most important spawning area for the Atlantic bluefin tuna, certainly one of the most iconic species of the Mediterranean Sea. Strangely, not many people know about this amazing animal, which is one of the biggest (up to 4 meters), heaviest (600 kg) and fastest fish around Mallorca, accelerating faster than a Porsche.
FUN FACT: The atlantic bluefin tuna can accelerate faster than a Porsche!
Balearic Marine Reserves
Out at sea, maybe crossing over to the Cabrera archipelago, you might get lucky enough to see one of the rarest sea birds in the world: the endemic Balearic shearwater (Puffinus mauretanicus). Usually spending its life out at sea, it only returns to land to breed from February through to June.
The Balearic Islands have declared 7 marine reserves. Thus they are Spain’s autonomous region with the most marine protected areas.
Many tourists and residents love to spend their days in the water, diving or snorkelling. The famous diving areas of El Toro and Malgrats of Santa Ponça are nature reserves since 2004. Thus, they have an abundant biodiversity, featuring moray eels, groupers, amber jacks, brown meagre, barracudas, nudibranchs and octopuses. They are suitable for both beginners and experienced divers. However, due to strict regulations diving is permitted only with an authorization of a diving club. Other spots that are gorgeous are the Isla Dragonera and Cabrera Archipelago. The Cabrera Archipelago was declared a national park in 1991. And the island Dragonera is a nature reserve since 1995.
Due to the crystal clear water and the protection of these areas they belong to the top dive sites in Mallorca. The caves of Dragonera are especially interesting. More than half of the varieties of the fish living around the Balearic Islands can be found in the Cabrera park’s waters, which makes Cabrera such a fantastic dive site! Sometimes you even get to see dolphins or sea turtles.
What we can do to improve Conditions for Marine Life
- Reduce your plastic waste: Do not use single use plastic bags. Buy reusable bottles and containers.
- Eat and buy consciously: Do not eat fish species that are in danger.
- Keep the environment clean: Do not litter and pick up any rubbish you see.
- Encourage others to care for the environment.
5 Ways to respect Balearic Marine Life
- Keep your distance. Marine wildlife is very sensitive to human disturbance. Always let the animals have unhindered right of way.
- Never touch or handle marine wildlife and do not feed or attract marine wildlife.
- Never chase or surround an animal.
- Stay away from wildlife that appears abandoned or sick. An animal that is sick or injured is already vulnerable and may be more likely to bite. If you think an animal is in trouble, call 112. They will send out a team of professionals to take care of it.
- Do not leave any litter behind when out in nature. Human garbage is one of the greatest threats to the marine ecosystem.
Around Mallorca, you can find a lot of posidonia oceanica meadows, an endemic Mediterranean specie. This “Neptune grass“ is home to most Mediterranean marine species that make up Balearic marine life. From small invertebrates to many species of fish. The sea grass creates a unique habitat providing shelter and food, increasing the biodiversity. It is a deciduous plant and loses its leaves in autumn. These wash up on the island’s beaches. Thanks to these leaves sand does not erode during the winter months. In addition, the leaves give nutrients to the dunes and forests behind the beaches. The Neptune grass generates 20 litres of oxygen per day per square meter. Thus, it is important to not remove it from the seabed and beaches.
If you wish to learn more about this topic visit the Cabrera National Park visitor centre in Colonia Sant Jordi. Or spend a day at Palma Aquarium, home to the rescue centre of marine turtles found around the Balearic Islands and to the largest exhibition of live corals in Europe.