Situated in the Mediterranean Sea, just 100 kilometres from the Iberian Peninsula, the Balearic Islands are home to a wide variety of habitats. The coast is lined with crags and cliffs, dunes, stony beaches and salt marshes. Inland, a Mediterranean forest opens up, with oaks, pines and carob trees, and patches of olive and almond trees. And down below, the sea bed is covered with posidonia meadows, and rocks brimming with corals.
This diversity of habitats, and their island nature, make the Balearics unique, with some endemic species that can't be found anywhere else on the planet. The islands' characteristics have resulted in many species evolving in a different way to those of the peninsula, which has led to the development of a unique and singular fauna.
The greatest diversity of fauna is to be found in the marine environment, with more than 400 species of fish, hundreds of crustaceans and invertebrates and a great variety of seabirds, of which one of the best known is the Balearic Shearwater (Puffinus mauretanicus), a species of bird endemic to the Balearic archipelago. The shearwater is the only species of seabird which is native to Spain, and it is in serious danger of extinction as its population has been reduced to about 3000 breeding pairs.
The shearwater can easily be spotted in any of the islands' natural parks, such as the Ses Salines National Park where, with a prior reservation, you can moor one of our sailboats and have a unique experience in one of the most beautiful spots for birdwatching. The shearwater also nests on cliffs, such as at La Mola on Formentera. At the end of June, these birds migrate to areas near the Cantabrian Sea, returning to the Balearics in September.
In addition to the shearwater, which can be seen throughout the year, the islands also host other migratory bird species such as flamingos, which arrive between August and October and stay in areas such as Ses Salines for much of the winter.
Mallorca is another island with great places for birdwatching, such as the Serra de Tramuntana and S'Albufera Natural Parks. In the latter, more than ten thousand migratory birds can be found in winter, including ducks, starlings and herons, a joy for any nature lover.
As well as its unique birds, one of the most distinctive animals of the archipelago, the Sargantana or Pitiusas lizard (Podarcis pityusensis), can be found on the Balearic Islands, or on the Pitiusas to be more precise. This is another species which is endemic to the Balearic Islands, a reptile originally from Ibiza and Formentera which was then introduced to the island of Mallorca.
One of the things that make these lizards special is their colouration, with 30 very different coloured subspecies, ranging from dark colours to cobalt blue. They can be found in rocky environments such as walls, rocks and crags.
The Balearic Islands are a veritable paradise for diving or snorkeling lovers, with their amazing underwater landscapes and many different species of fish and crustaceans. Thanks to the crystal clear water, the experience can be truly incredible.
We will anchor the sailboat at one of the shallower spots that can be found near all of the islands, where you can immediately enjoy sandy, rocky landscapes and incredible posidonia seabeds, which we already talked about in an interesting article on our blog. Some amazing species can be found at these spots, from turtles to starfish.
As a point of interest, every year the Balearic Islands' Department of the Environment, Agriculture and Fisheries records the sightings of rare fish in a database (DAPERA), which it publishes and distributes among those who have contributed to it. So now you know: if you are lucky enough to spot a rare specimen of marine fauna in the waters of the Balearic Islands, you can be a part of this exclusive club.
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