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July 17, 2007

Isla Hormigas

BY: Ricardo Aguilar


© OCEANA / Juan Cuetos


Early in the morning we leave Cartagena and set sail towards Cabo de Palos; we will meet with the marine reserve guards there to comment on our plans. The paperwork is quick and we’re wailing towards Bajo de Fuera in no time. The top is located at only 4 meters depth and the northern slope plunges to 35-45 meters depth, while the southern slope plunges to greater depths.

It’s impressive to see how this area has recovered since it was designated a reserve. The amount of fish is spectacular, especially due to the presence of large groupers (Epinephelus marginatus), brown meagres (Sciaena umbra), barracudas (Sphyraena viridensis), dentex (Dentex dentex), etc.

We use the ROV in the afternoon to study the floors at 50-60 meters depth outside the reserve which may prove interesting. And we weren’t mistaken. The floor is comprised of detritic sand and some small rocks. The brown algae is abundant, including Dictiota dichotoma, Dyctiopetris membranacea or Nereia filiformis. There are also many sponges, especially large specimens of Cliona celata and Dysidea avara, and many ascidians, such as Clavellina nana, Halocynthia papillosa, Phallusia fumigata, Didemnum maculosum etc. And a few isolated gorgonians (Eunicella singularis y Leptogorgia sarmentosa).

At night, we tie up in Cabo de Palos port to prepare our voyage to Seco de Palos the next morning.