Sea Turtles in Tenerife

What species of Sea turtles are in Tenerife?

In Tenerife the Loggerhead sea turtle is the most common species.

Caretta caretta

Loggerhead Sea Turtle

Loggerhead Sea turtles are the species most commonly encountered during our whale and dolphin watching tours. As a cold blooded reptile, the turtles are usually found resting on the surface of the ocean warming themselves in the abundant Tenerife sunshine.

Loggerhead Sea turtles are the largest hard shelled oceanic turtle species reaching 1 meter in length and up to 400 kilograms. Their lifespan is over 60 years, becoming adults between 20-30 years of age. Their omnivorous diet is varied, concentrated on bottom dwelling invertebrates. They are good divers with average dive time being 20 minutes although they can stay submerged for over 4 hours!

The Loggerhead Sea turtles in Tenerife are usually very young through juveniles. They do not reproduce here on Tenerife, but are either born on the beaches of the south eastern United States or in the Cape Verde islands archipelago before using ocean currents to arrive in the Canary Islands.

Tenerife is a nursery area for the Loggerhead Sea turtles. The marine environment of Costa Adeje offers a good mix of warm ocean temperatures and abundant food to provide ideal conditions for the young turtles to thrive.

Here in Tenerife the threats to these turtles are; entanglement in ocean trash and ingestion of plastics and other garbage are the largest threats. Our team investigates and determines the immediate state of health of the Loggerhead Sea turtles seen on our tours. If necessary we either entangled turtles or collect injured turtles and deliver them to the local Sea turtle rescue and rehabilitation center.

Chelonia mydas

Green Sea Turtle

Green Sea turtles are common in Tenerife, but we rarely see them on our regular whale and dolphin watching tours as they tend to prefer shallow coastal waters where the whales are dolphins are not found. They can be found in an area rich in sea grass beds, one of their favourite foods.

Green Sea turtles grow up to 1.5 meters in length and weigh up to 200 kilograms. Their lifespan can be over 80 years! As juveniles their diet is carnivorous changing to a diet of mostly sea grasses as adults. Their beak becomes serrated to cut the algae they prefer. Like all Sea turtles they sleep underwater for several hours, during the day their dive times average less than 10 minutes.

Here in Tenerife the Green Sea turtles are under threat by human activity. Although they are a protected species some tour companies target the Green Sea turtles feeding areas and some even introduce food to entice the turtles to approach tourists. This is illegal, unsustainable and harmful to the Green Sea turtles in Tenerife.

Tenerife and the Canary Islands are visited by numerous Green Sea turtles throughout the year, except for mating time when the adult turtles travel back to the beaches they were born on to mate; yearly for males and every 2-3 years for females. The Cape Verde islands are an important breeding area for the Green Sea turtles found in Tenerife.

Green Sea turtle populations are threatened. Here in Tenerife there is the threat of entanglement, ingestion of plastics, being struck by the high level of traffic in their feeding area and interference by companies and tourists feeding the turtles.