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September 13, 2009

La Palma. Sunday, September 13, 2009

BY: Gorka Leclercq


©OCEANA/ Carlos Suárez


Today we set sail at dawn from the port of Santa Cruz de La Palma toward the southern part of the island. Today’s plan is to do two dives with divers and one with the ROV off the Fuencaliente lighthouse.

We sailed with a fresh wind from the stern; when we rounded the cape, we were sheltered by Fuencaliente’s point. We did the first submersion at Torre de Malpique, a pinnacle that rises from a depth of between fifty and twenty-three meters, and it is covered almost completely by black coral (Antipathella wollastoni). We only had a few minutes to document the place due to the depth. Despite not carrying the proper lens, there is very good visibility and we have the sun at our back, so I took this opportunity to take several general shots of the tower before approaching to film the coral. The scuba computers began warning us of the depth we were at, and we began our ascent to more shallow depths.

On a sandy bottom, I can make out the triangular silhouette that is characteristic of a spiny butterfly ray (Gymnura altavela), majestically lifts off upon noticing our presence. I tried to follow it in vain, though I managed to take a “decent” shot of it. Almost at the end of the dive, we had the possibility of filming several common seabream (Pagrus pagrus) and a fangtooth moray (Enchelycore anatina).

On the way back to the ship, it’s the “ROVers’” turn. They began the submersion very near where we had dove, but at a depth of 500 meters. However, they had to abort their submersion due to a strong current that made it impossible to control the ROV. So we divers geared up for a new dive in the same place.

This time, I attached the wide-angle lens, but when I got in the water, I realized that the conditions had changed completely, and visibility had dwindled considerably. In spite of this, we went back down to the tower to take some shots, without achieving the result that I would have liked. So I had to settle for filming several trumpetfish (Aulostomus strigosus) in a new cave we found when we returned to the ship.

Now on our way back, we once again steered our course toward the port of Santa Cruz de la Palma where we will spend the last night on La Palma, to later sail toward the island of El Hierro, the prime meridian island.