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August 2, 2008

Castro Verde and Sonabia



Today we continued with the campaign by making two Rov immersions and one with divers. Ana Leiva (director of Fundación Biodiversidad) and Juanjo came with us. This was because they showed great interest in finding out what a day of work on the Ranger was like and our activities and the information we are collecting on Bay of Biscay habitats and species. Marta Madina, Oceana’s director of communications, also came with us.

We returned to the canyon and Castro Verde seamount to continue investigating the sea bottoms. As soon as we reached the canyon, a group of common dolphins (Delphinus delphis), comprised of 8 individuals approached the ship. After the Rov immersions, the divers photographed and filmed the bottom around Ballena de Sonabia (literally Sonabia Whale, also called Punta de Sonabia) for the last time.

The fact that we were working on three different substrata: muddy canyons, a seamount with a mixed detrital-rocky bottom and a rocky coastal area with small sands enabled us to compare habitats and different species.

In the muddy area, bottom dwelling species predominated such as the tall sea pen (Funiculina quadrangularis), sea pens (Pennetula phosphorea), silver pout (Gadiculus argenteus), rugose squat lobsters (Munida rugosa), small-spotted catsharks (Scyliorhinus canicula) and fields of crinoids (Leptometra celtica). On the seamount, the rocky areas were covered with chalice sponges (Phakellia ventilabrum), sea fans (Acanthogorgia hirsuta, Eunicella verrucosa, Paramuricea grayi), jewel anemones (Corynactis viridis) and extensive areas of black coral. Finally, on the bottom around Ballena de Sonabia already described on several occasions, we found a dogfish (Scyliorhinus stellaris) for the first time after the campaign began.

After the last immersion, we returned to the port of Getxo, where Ana, Juanjo and Marta disembarked. Immediately afterward, we steered our course toward Gijón, with the idea of cruising at night and ending the campaign in Asturias.

As we were leaving the port of Getxo we came across a whaling boat regatta, a typical water sport on the Bay of Biscay. We took advantage of this occasion to stop awhile and enjoy the show. The “La marinera” from Castro Urdiales won. This is a whaling boat that we had already seen when we were working near this town.