In Tenerife the rock pools of Garachico are full of marine life
Marine life of Garachico
Garachico has been beckoning to me every time I look out from my balcony with a sea view because just down the coast I can see its El Roque looking picturesque and mysterious. It is just the sort of place to investigate here in Tenerife in the Canary Islands. I knew that it was once the island's main port until a volcanic eruption. Garachico had a really interesting past.
Not only that, but for some strange reason I keep thinking of that old flower-power hit song that went "Let's go to San Francisco," only I change the destination of course! I had thought about walking there because it doesn't look far from where I live but I am glad I caught the bus instead because, as I soon found out, it's actually a longer road than it looked and goes through a tunnel in one stretch.
Having caught the bus from Icod I got out on the side of Garachico nearest to El Roque and went to have a look from the roadside. The little islet of El Roque is apparently part of how Garachico got its name because "gara" is the Guanche word for island and "chico" means small in Spanish.
El Roque looks the sort of place that in Britain would be covered in seabirds such as gannets and puffins and guillemots. All I could see, however, was what looked like a few seagulls and the strange-shaped rocks of the shoreline.
I walked on and decided to have a look at the beaches and volcanic rock-pools. Now Garachico has an interesting history, as already mentioned, because back in 1706, Mount Trevejo erupted and engulfed the town in molten lava, which cooled when it hit the sea and created several natural swimming pools making it a very popular spot for bathers today. I was more interested in marine life like fish and crustaceans rather than human life though.
I went to have a look in the pools and was careful not to get too enthusiastic because I have paid the price of eagerness to see what's in a rock-pool in Tenerife before when I once slipped on some wet seaweed and took a tumble into the water, wrecking my camera and grazing my knees.
No such problems in Garachico though, and I soon spotted some interesting fish. I could see various types of blenny, a shoal of young grey mullet exposing their shining slivery sides as they fed, and the most colourful of all that I could see was a male blue damselfish. I assumed it was a male because it appeared to be guarding its territory and would swim out, have a look around and then swim back into the shelter of a rocky cranny.
Seeing a damselfish in its natural habitat is one of the real pleasures of living in Tenerife for me because back in Britain I had only seen these beautiful creatures in marine tropical fish tanks and books.
In another weed encrusted pool I could see small winkle shells moving around but moving much too fast for the snail-like animal that a winkle is. Looking more closely I saw that they were actually baby hermit crabs.
These amazing crustaceans have soft bodies that they protect by housing their vulnerable parts inside an empty shell. Only their antennae and legs and claws are outside the shell and if danger threatens they withdraw back into the safety of their mobile home.
The only trouble with this arrangement is that when they grow too big they have to find a new shell to fit their bigger bodies.
As well as the fish and hermit crabs I soon also spotted some sea anemones, the animals flowers of the sea that catch their food in their sticky tentacles. I tried to get some photos but it wasn't easy - what I really need is one of those fancy underwater lens cameras.
Leaving the pools I decided to have a look in the rocks at the higher levels of the beach and here I spotted some plants that were doing well growing in cracks there. I found a pretty little species of Sea-lavender, of which there are several endemic varieties in Tenerife, and the Sea Parsley or Perejil de Mar, as it is called in Spanish, and which is very similar to and grows in, the same sort of place as the British Rock Samphire.
Leaving the beach I decided to have a look around Garachico itself and came upon a pleasant little park called Puerta de Tierra and which had some rather beautiful cyclamens in flower at the base of a group of palms.
I wandered around for a bit and then on the way out I saw something that looked as weird as any form of strange marine life that I might have spied in the rock-pools. Where a tree had been pruned the sap had oozed out and congealed into a crystalline blob. It looked just like something out of a Science-fiction film.
Footnote: First published in the Tenerife Sun.
Where is Garachico?
© 2008 Steve Andrews