There has been a resurgence in African migrants taking the treacherous Atlantic route to the Spanish territory this year in search of jobs and prosperity that they cannot find at home.
Many migrants see the chain of islands off the Moroccan coast as the only viable option left as the European Union spends millions of dollars cutting off land routes through north Africa. They consider it a launchpad for asylum in mainland Europe.
In 2006 some 7,000 people died trying to make the crossing, rights groups say. In the decade that followed, Spanish patrols slowed the pace. Land routes through Niger and Libya to Italy became more popular.