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August 6, 2008

Ctenophore soup and fishermen at dawn

BY: Concha Martínez


©OCEANA/ Carlos Minguell


We continued in the Aegean Sea. The weather is great. The wind has died down and the sea is quite calm. This allows us to continue with our campaign plan without major changes.

Yesterday, at dusk, Patricia Lastra, the marine scientist who is who is working on the red tuna habitat conservation campaign in the Mediterranean, took several samples with the icthyoplankton net at different stations to the West of the island of Samothracia (Greece).

On all occasions, the initial result was a large quantity of ctenophores (a word I learned yesterday) and that I would commonly describe as some marine “animals” with a jelly-like and transparent appearance. The look a lot like jellyfish, but fortunately they do not sting.

Each of the samples collected brought up a sizeable amount in the net. We saved a few samples to examine them under the microscope and the “gelatinous soup” was returned to the sea again, as what we were searching for were larvae of other species that give us information of whether the areas where samples are taken are egg laying areas, and in that case, for what species.

Last night, the shifts to check whether the drift nets are used in this spot in the Mediterranean were also resumed.

At dawn, María José Cornax, the person responsible for this campaign was on duty when she identified a group of seven Turkish trawlers. They are probably the ones that work with midwater trawl nets to catch small pelagic fish like sardines, anchovies, mackerel… but we can’t be sure of this fact. It seems they were trawling in a convoy. We have followed their course on the radar, and we have been able to verify how they have left Turkish waters, they have crossed international waters, they have entered Greek waters and then they have gone back to continue fishing in Turkish waters.

For the layperson, like me, I have also known that in this part of the Mediterranean, the territorial waters of each country (Greece and Turkey) are the waters that correspond to 6 miles of the coastline. In the rest of the Mediterranean, they are 12 miles, something that would be very complicated here because of all of the islands that there are with the corresponding country’s territorial waters.

Right now, the divers are preparing to dive. Tomorrow, I will tell you about outcome of what they saw.