Below are a few of the beautiful and interesting animals that live around Tenerife. These include the stingray, common dolphin, basking shark, and Byrde’s whale. Some of these animals, like the angelshark, are rarer and even listed as endangered, while others, like the stingray, are far more common and easier to come across. 

Green Turtle

The largest type of hard-shelled turtles

green sea turtle
Green turtles can be seen near the coastlines of Tenerife

The green turtle is a type of large sea turtle. It is named for the greenish hue of their cartilage and fat rather than the color of their shells.

They live throughout tropic and subtropical waters, including around Tenerife and the Canary Islands, and migrate long distances. They are the only members of the genus Chelonia. Green sea turtles generally make use of three different habitats. They utilize beaches to lay their eggs, spend most of their adult lives in the ocean shallows or in bays or lagoons. Seagrass meadows are a popular destination for sea turtles. They travel immense distances between their feeding and nesting sites. A distance of 2,600 kilometers or 1,600 miles was once recorded.


Have a long spine/tail that is venomous at the end

The common stingray is commonly spotted around Tenerife

Credit: Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias Valencia

The common stingray is another interesting marine creature one might see in the waters around Tenerife. They are common in coastal tropical and subtropical waters but are becoming progressively more threatened by overfishing and climate change. They are flat, grey/brown, and have broad bodies. Their mouths are loaded on the ventral, or bottom, side and have modified placoid scales for teeth. 

Lizard Fish

Can camouflage very well into their surroundings

Lizard fish are seen around Tenerife, on the seafloor

Credit: Laszlo Ilyes

The lizard fish is a marine fish that belong to the aulopiform fish order. They are small, grey fish that are slender and cylindrical. Their heads look, to some degree, like a lizard’s head, leading to the coining of their name. Their bodies are mottled grey, white, and black, with darker splotches extending on their heads. This pattern allows them to blend into the seafloor, especially sandy areas. Lizardfish can be found in tropical and subtropical waters around the world. They are “benthic,” meaning that they live in shallow waters near the coast. Lizardfish have numerous sharp teeth, some of which are located on their tongues.


One of few sharks that can breathe without having to swim

The angelshark are residents to Tenerife waters

Credit: Nick Long

The angelshark is a group of sharks that are part of the genus Squatina. They live in seabeds around 500 feet from the surface. They are classified as “endangered” by the IUCN. These sharks used to be common throughout the Northeast Atlantic but are now in decline due to overfishing. They are distinguished from other sharks due to their size, only around seven feet, and their weight, around seventy-seven pounds. Their bodies are broad and flat, with five gill slits on the bottom of their body. 

Byrde’s Whale

Also known as ‘the tropical whale’ as not seen in cold waters

byde's whale surfacing
Whale watching is popular at Tenerife, partly thanks to the Byrde’s whale

Credit: Jolene Bertoldi

Byrde’s whale is a type of baleen whale. The common whale is found in warm waters around the world. A smaller version may be restricted to smaller areas of the Indo-Pacific. The largest version of the whale has been measured at a maximum of forty-nine feet. They have two blowholes and no teeth. Instead, these whales have rows of baleen plates in their mouths. They have many visual similarities to the sei whale. 

Common Dolphin

They are intelligent animals, with their own language of communication

Common Dolphin swimming along the Tenerife coast
Common Dolphin swimming along the Tenerife coast

Credit: Mmo iwdg 

The common dolphin is another wonderful marine animal one could see around Tenerife. They are medium-sized dolphins, growing around six to eight feet in length. They are the only member of the genus Delphinus. They have a dark back and a. Lighter belly with an hourglass pattern on their sides. They also have thin rostra and interlocking teeth. 

Parrot Fish 

Have a bird-like beak to help scrap and eat algae

Green and pink parrotfish
The colorful Parrotfish can be seen around Tenerife

Credit: Adona9

Parrotfish are a group of around 90 fish species that are focused in the Indo-Pacific, including around the Canary Islands and Tenerife. These fish are commonly found in coral reefs and are often sought out for their bright colors. They are large fish that can grow from one to four feet in length. They are also incredibly colorful, something that changes throughout their lives as they grow. The parrotfish have tightly arranged teeth on the external surface of their jaws. These teeth create a beak-like shape that gives the fish their name. The smallest species only grows to around five inches in length. The largest species can reach close to five feet in length. 

Short-finned Pilot Whale

Often school in groups around 25-50 in size

Groups of short-finned pilot whales can sometimes be seen around Tenerife

Credit: Martine Nolte

The short-finned pilot whale is part of the genus Globicephala. It lives around the world, including around the Canary Islands. There is an estimated population of around 700,000 worldwide. The whale has a stocky build with a bulbous head, few teeth, and a short beak. There are numerous reports of this whale displaying apparently playful and social behavior. 

Basking Shark

The second-largest fish in the ocean, behind the blue whale

basking shark
Tenerife can be the home for basking sharks

The basking shark is a large shark, considered to be the largest living shark after the whale shark. It can reach lengths of twenty-six feet. It’s usually grey-brown in color with mottled skin. It also has a distinctive large mouth. It’s found around the world in temperate oceans and is a filter feeder. This means that it opens its mouth and strains its food through a filtering structure. Its name comes from its habit of swimming to the surface of the water and appearing to bask in the sunlight. 

Common Smooth-hound Shark

A long shark that can live between 6 – 9 years

Common Smooth-hound Shark

The common smooth-hound shark is commonly found around the British Isles, in the Mediterranean Sea, around the Canary Islands, and other tropical and sub-tropical areas. It usually stays fairly close to the surface, between five to fifty meters. They are grey/brown with a lighter underside with slender profiles. The species is listed as “vulnerable” by the IUCN. They can grow up to 120 centimeters or 47 inches in length. 

Hammerhead Shark

The hammer-shape head improves vision, to help catch fast-moving prey

Common Smooth-hound Shark
Hammerhead swim around the waters of Tenerife

Credit: Barry Peters

The hammerhead shark is a commonly seen and admired shark species. It’s part of the family Sphyrnidae. It is named for the distinctive shape of its head, which, ins some ways, resembles a hammer. The species is most common along coastlines and continental shelves. The hammerhead swims in groups during the day and hunts by itself at night. They grow between 2 ft 11 into 19 ft 8 in long and usually weigh between 6.6 to 1,278 pounds.


Are there any sharks in Tenerife?

Yes, there are a few types of sharks around Tenerife. These include the basking shark, hammerhead shark and the angelshark.

Are there sea urchins in Tenerife?

Yes, there are a few different types of sea urchins around Tenerife. These include the long-spined black sea urchin, which is considered to be an invasive species.

What whales are found in Tenerife?

The sperm whale, killer whale, and minke whale, among others, all live around Tenerife.

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