Despite it’s mountainous appearance, Fuerteventura is in fact a very low-lying Island and because of this the moisture-laden trade winds (alisios) pass over the Island without releasing their moisture as rain.
For this reason, and because of centuries of over-grazing, the Island is very arid with predominately desert and semi-desert Flora and Fauna.
The decline of agriculture as the principle activity on the island is allowing a slow return it’s natural state, however desertification is still very much an issue.
Saltbrush, Tabayba and other semi-desert species are predominant in many areas with scattered Canary Palms around settlements. The only exceptions to this are on the highest peaks of the Jandia Peninsula where endemics such as the cactus-like Cardon de Jandia can be found.
All of the mammals found on Fuerteventura were either introduced deliberately or accidentally with the exception of Bats.
Of note is the Barbary Ground Squirrel which has become something of a Tourist Attraction at many of the miradors around the island, where they have become tame and will eat out of tourists hands. Other mammals found on the island include Barbary Hedgehogs, Rabbits, Mice and Shrews as well as feral populations of Donkeys and Goats.
There are no snakes on the island (except behind glass in theme parks), but there are plenty of Geckos and an endemic race of Atlantic Lizard. It is possible that some Turtles still breed here on some of the more remote beaches and several species of Turtles are seen regularly in the waters around the island.
Since most of the island is semi-desert, many of the more notable bird species found here are semi-desert species such as the Houbara Bustard, Stone Curlew and Cream-Coloured Courser.
There is one endemic species, The Canary Islands Chat, which is found in some of the gullies around the island.
Predators such as Buzzards and Egyptian vultures can be seen in remote parts of the island while Kestrels and Great Grey Shrikes are very common. A favourite with Northern Europeans is the Hoopoe, which can be seen throughout the island.
Cory’s Shearwaters can be seen from the coast during summer months especially around Isla de Lobos.
The water temperature on the north/east coast is slightly cooler than that of the east coast and for this reason there tends to be larger numbers of and more varied species around the northern coast.
Some of the more notable/exotic species around the island include Hammerhead Sharks, Parrot Fish, Swordfish, various Tuna species and Flying Fish (which can be seen from excursions and ferries).
The waters around the island are of particular importance to Whales and Dolphins and there has been great controversy in recent years when dead whales are washed up on the beaches. These deaths have been blamed on the use of low frequency sonar during naval exercises.