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June 28, 2011

The 2011 Expedition begins

© OCEANA / Carlos Minguell


This year, Oceana’s campaign onboard the Ranger begins in Portugal, studying the sea beds of various seamounts located in Portuguese waters.

One of the most impressive seamounts in the world rises from the sea bed roughly 160 nautical miles southeast of Cape St. Vincent: Gorringe. From its peak, only 30 meters from the surface, it falls to a depth of 5,000 meters, harbouring communities and species on its slopes that are characteristic of both the Atlantic and Mediterranean.  In addition, the high rate of endemism the seamount harbours, located in the Atlantic Ocean facing the Straits of Gibraltar, and the high productivity generated by the algae that covers the substrate, make it a unique place.

In the south, in waters of Madeira, there is another seamount whose peak is located in deeper waters and about which very little is known: Ampere.

Oceana dove off Gorringe in 2005. Back then, images were taken by a team of divers in shallow waters. This time, we hope to document the sea beds with the ROV, down to 600 meters depth.

Everything is already organized. The Ranger set sail from Valencia three days ago and reached Portimão today. Little by little, the crew is arriving from different places: Madrid, Canary Islands, Barcelona. Tania Pereira will also be joining us, too. She is a biologist who works on the M@rBis project as biodiversity consultant, as well as Jorge Goçalves from the University of the Algarve.

As everyone arrives, each one will be dedicated to preparing the equipment so we can dive tomorrow. Because the winds are too strong right now, we’ll begin in Portimão Canyon while we wait for the weather to improve so we can set sail for Gorringe.