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September 12, 2009

La Palma. Saturday, September 12, 2009

BY: Carlos Suárez


©OCEANA/ Carlos Suárez


Today is a special day aboard the Oceana Ranger. It is our first contact with La Palma and we also have guests. We have been paid a visit by Marta Madina, communications director for Oceana Europe and Carlos, a journalist for XL Semanal magazine who will write an article about the campaign. We received our guests, and after the introductions de rigueur in a cordial setting, we steered our course toward Punta Cumplida.

Today’s dives will be made with just the ROV, and the routine is always the same. The remote vehicle operators will perform a series of checks to prevent failures and malfunctioning. A hypothetical failure at depths of over 500 meters could hamper the vessel with a snag on the steep underwater walls. Everyone is amazed when they gaze at the depths it reaches so close to shore. Nothing like other places where we have held campaigns in years past. The Canary Islands have a narrow shelf, and you can especially notice this on La Palma.

The sea became a bit rougher and the wind made it difficult to control the ship and the ROV in turn. Everything has its own routine pace, and submersion time rolls around. Ana de la Torriente and Ricardo Aguilar are really enjoying themselves. The highlight of the day was when we spotted a black coral (Bathypathes sp.) next to an alcyonacean coral (Anthomastus sp.) on the rocky bottom. I take great pleasure in seeing them so excited about this identification of two undescribed species for the Canarian archipelago.

On the way back to the marina in Santa Cruz de la Palma to spend the night, I watch our guests’ faces, and they reflect the tiredness of so many hours on the sea. A workday can be exhausting on a ship, and we make good use of time on the Ranger.

Today its our turn to eat out, and tomorrow will be a double submersion day for the divers. Although I was tempted to stay up past my bedtime, I decided to go to bed early to be fresh for the following day. Diving is my passion, but I am aware that the sea’s changing conditions may turn the simplest of dives into a dangerous situation. It is better to rest because on a ship, you never know when you’ll have the chance.