Get to know the flora and fauna of the Las Canteras bar

Las Canteras beach holds the title of being one of the best urban beaches in the world. Located in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, it is a beach of fine blond sand 2,250 meters long and can be enjoyed practically all year round. It has a natural rocky barrier about 200 meters from the shore, which protects from the tides and is a source of biodiversity. And we will talk about Las Canteras Bar in this article, read on and learn about its flora and fauna.

Origin of the beach and the Las Canteras bar

In the past, a strip of sea about 1 km wide separated La Isleta from the rest of the island of Gran Canaria. The isthmus of Guanarteme, named after one of the most important aboriginal leaders of the Canary Islands, was a narrow stretch of sand that connected the southern peninsula of La Isleta with the northeast of the island of Gran Canaria. The isthmus was approximately 4.12 km long and a little more than 200 meters wide at its narrowest part, opening into a cup shape at its ends. The western side of the isthmus is currently occupied by the beach of Las Canteras, while the eastern side houses the facilities of Puerto de La Luz.

According to studies carried out at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, the geological history of the isthmus and the surroundings of the beach and bar of Las Canteras can be divided into 4 phases: the first with the formation of the island due to a strong volcanic activity that began about 14 million years ago; the second with the formation of the peninsula of La Isleta, 1.7 million years ago; the third called 'erosive phase', which led to the formation of an islet and lasted until about 110,000 years ago; and the 4th phase of construction of the tombolo, the beach and the bar of Las Canteras due to the sedimentation of sands and other materials.

Bar and beach of Las Canteras

Characteristics of the Las Canteras bar

The bar of the beach of Las Canteras, also known as "the reef", is one of the most significant and richest landscape and natural elements of the beach. It is well known that without this natural barrier, Las Canteras would have a completely different morphology and structure.

The distribution of the bar runs parallel to the coast in the northern section, extends discontinuously about 200 m from the shore of the beach reaching a total length of more than 2 kilometers and an average width of about 50 meters. Its constitution is calcareous (calcarenite) and sandy combined with silty deposits and occasionally interspersed with conglomerates. Behind the emerging bar, about 1500 meters offshore, is a second bar, permanently submerged. It is wider than the previous one and has several irregularities including cornices, cracks and small arches.

Biodiversity: flora and fauna

The waters of this unique environment are home to about 210 different species of algae, thanks to the characteristics of the particular ecosystem between the beach and the bar, which represents 30% of the 650 species of macroscopic algae that have been catalogued in the Canary Islands.

The fauna that inhabits the beach of Las Canteras also owes much of its existence to the protective action of the bar. Thus in the waters of the beach can be found different species of pelagics such as bream, permit, old, pejeverdes, salemas, white fulas, black fulas, cabosos, among others, and living among its rocks benthic individuals such as limpets, of the genus Patella, or tapaculos.

Throughout its more than 3 kilometers of extension, a wide variety of marine environments can be distinguished, giving rise to an area of high structural heterogeneity:

Barra de Las Canteras, its flora and fauna

Intertidal environment

The rocky intertidal races, popularly called "shellfish", are hard substrates with a multitude of species such as green and red cespitose algae, limpets, burgids and different species of crustaceans that find shelter and food hidden during low tide among the algae. The pools in this intertidal environment are a very peculiar ecosystem due to the abrupt changes in environmental parameters that occur as a result of the hours of isolation during low tide and the sudden arrival of high tide. Within them a very specific fauna develops, such as cabosos, barrigudas, fulas, pejeverdes, etc., as well as other shellfish of commercial interest such as octopus and brown algae such as certain cystoseiras, starfish, sea urchins, etc.

Barra de Las Canteras, its flora and fauna

Subtidal environment

As we enter the underwater world we discover that the different marine organisms are distributed mainly according to the type of seabed. Thus, we find large sandy extensions where fish such as spider fish, pejepeines, lizards, holothurians and various mollusks dwell in search of food. On this type of seabed there is a marine community of great ecological interest: the seagrass meadows of Cymodocea nodosa, popularly called "sebadales". These marine plants have inconspicuous flowers, but it is possible to find small seeds half buried in the sand. These sebadales, in the 70s, came to occupy much of the sandy bottoms between the Barra and the beach line.

Among the fish we can highlight for their abundance in Las Canteras Beach the white and black damselfish, the pejeverde, the vieja, the sargos and the salema. All of them seek their food in shallow waters of our beach, often forming large groups or shoals. Along with these species of wide distribution throughout the beach and throughout the year, we find fish of great size and uniqueness, which are only found in certain places on the beach, or at certain times of the year. Thus, we can point out the occasional sighting of bicuda, amberjack, abbots, some grouper, and large stingrays.

Las Canteras Bar

In the shallow rocky bottoms, seaweeds are the dominant species, but as we move towards deeper depths we observe the presence of high concentrations of long barbed black sea urchins. It is even possible, at some distance from the bar, to observe the sporadic presence of marine mammals such as dolphins and pilot whales and gray pilot whales, and reptiles such as sea turtles.

The Canary Islands is a land with a thousand things to see, explore and learn about. If you are interested in learning more interesting facts about the Canary Islands, here is a link to the Explora Canarias section of Marca Canaria.

Photos: My beach of Las Canteras, FotoCanarios, La Provincia, ULPGC

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