Hi Everyone! Last week, we spent three days visiting Ibiza and some of its surrounding islands. On our first day, we were lucky enough to have the Reserva Natural de Es Vedra take us out on their boat to visit some the islands off of Ibiza’s West coast. We spent the next few days kayaking and swimming to a few coastal islands to photograph even more populations of Ibiza Wall Lizards. We were blown away by the diversity of lizard behavior and color found on each island and want to share some of the images we took during this adventure. Click here or on the thumbnail image to see the second photo gallery from our trip.
On our first day in Ibiza, the people from the Reserve took us to three small islands: Bledes Plano, Escull Des Cap Vermell, and Es Frare. The amazing thing about these three populations is that the lizards living on each of these islands are much darker than the lizards found on Ibiza and any other islands. The lizards population of Bledes and Escull Des Cap Vermell are almost completely black – they are known as the subspecies Podarcis pityusensis maluquerorum. No one really knows what’s responsible for this unique coloration, but researchers suspect that it may have something to do with a mutation in the gene responsible for melanin production. On Es Frare, just south of the Bledes Islands, the lizards are an intense dark blue. These lizards are also a putative subspecies -Podarcis pityusensis frailensis. They look like an intermediate population that shares color characteristics from a black and a blue population of lizards.
On our second day, we stuffed our photo gear into my inflatable kayak and headed out for another island on the west coast of Ibiza – Cala Salada. Liz navigated the kayak while the rest of us followed her in the water with snorkels and face masks. This small island has a putative subspecies of the Ibiza Wall Lizard: Podarcis pityusensis calaesaladae. The lizards here were indeed unique. While some lizards resembled those found on Ibiza, the vast majority of the lizards expressed a bright orange phenotype! We spent the day photographing the lizards and snorkeling around this amazing little island.
On our last day in Ibiza, we attempted to visit the island of Murada off of the North Coast of Ibiza. We’d heard rumors that the lizards on Murada were also black. Murada is miles away from the Bledes islands – meaning that the black lizards here must have evolved to be black independently of the other black lizard populations. Unfortunately, it was a windy day. From a distance, it looked like we still might have a chance to land on Murada and take some pictures. Neil and I packed a limited amount of gear into a dry bag, inflated the kayak, and head out to the island from the port of San Miguel. Once we got out of the port into the open sea, ten foot swells rocked us up and down. When we finally got to Murada, and circumnavigated it, we discovered the only place where landing was reasonable was being smashed by huge waves. Seasick and disappointed, we returned to Ibiza empty handed. Hopefully we can return to Murada later this month when the weather is more cooperative!
We returned to Formentera on Sunday to watch Spain win the Euro Cup Finals. Over the last few days on Formentera, we have visited several new populations and captured more great images. Two days ago, our Dutch friend, Joris van Alphen arrived. Joris was last year’s National Geographic Emerging Photographer of the Year. Last summer, he came out to the islands for a week and we worked together on a couple of films about the lizards here. One of those films won Best Film at the NEScent Evolution Film Festival. You can check it out below:
Over the next week, we plan to work with Joris to make another film and release another couple of photo galleries, so stay tuned! Also, you can check out our last photo gallery by clicking here!