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September 15, 2007

In Cabrera once again


© OCEANA / Juan Cuetos


We reach Cabrera on the 15th in the afternoon in order to continue sampling the eastern part of the National Park. Ten minutes after the robot was in the water, we saw some fog beginning to form on the camera lens, which is bad news; water was somehow getting inside. We decide to suspend the dive and lift the ROV out of the water. There must be a broken seal or connection.

To save time, the divers submerge themselves in the small island of Na Foradada while we check the robot. We don’t see many fish here, only a group of barracudas (Sphyrna viridensis), but we do spot a wall covered with sponges and corals, such as Leptosamnia pruvoti, Caryophyllia inormata, etc.

The results of the analysis of the robot’s camera indicate that we cannot continue; we need a new camera. While we obtain it, we’re going to try to place the rear camera in the front. We don’t know if this is going to work. So, we set sail towards the port of Cabrera and begin with the changes.

At night, the divers, especially Juan and Quique, want to take advantage and decide to submerge themselves without tanks to obtain some images of marine life at night. Eels (Muraena helena), seabreams (Oblada melanura), sand smelts (Aterhina sp.) Bucchich’s gobies (Gobius bucchichi) and other fish are immortalised by the cameras. Elevated water temperatures have led to the proliferation of single-cell algae that forms a mucilage that covers a large part of the Posidonia oceanica meadow, giving it a phantasmagorical appearance. When we finish with the night dive, it seems we have good news about the camera changes.

On the morning of the 16th, we return to the place we left the day before. Now it seems everything is working well. The sea bed is made up of fine sand atop a hard substrate. Sometimes, we spot concretions of red algae with numerous sponges. On the larger ones, we find greater forkbears (Phycis phycis), mullets (Mullus surmuletus), lobsters (Palinurus elephas), swallowtail seaperch (Anthias anthias), etc.

We also see some specimens of laminarians (Laminaria rodriguezii) that are plentiful in some places. Meanwhile, we spot some small-spotted catsharks (Scylyorhinus canícula) and nursehounds (Scyliorhinus stellaris), as well as a couple of John Dorys (Zedus faber).

As an interesting side note, we also spot a small, pointy amphora, without handles, of which we will inform the undersea archaeology specialists in case it is important.

We were also surprised to find various species of black coral and extensive maerl in the northern area. And, of course, the scars left by the trawlers as they operate atop this precious ecosystem.