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August 3, 2008

Last day of the campaign: Mushroom sponge day

©OCEANA/ Enrique Talledo


After being under way all night without any problems, we reached Gijón. To finish off the campaign, the objective for the day was to take some samples of mushroom sponges, a species we have recorded along the Galician and Asturian coasts. We have not been able to identify it because it is probably a new and undescribed species.

Javier Cristobo and Pilar Ríos, sponge specialists, wanted to come along with us and share this last campaign activity with us. So after embarking, we set our course for the Somos Llungo seamount where we had planned to collect samples. One at the seamount, with the help of the Rov, we identified an area at a depth of some 45-48 meters where this species of sponge was found in great abundance. In addition, we found sea fans, hydrozoa, anemones and especially a great diversity of sponges (Haliclona oculata, Tedania urgorri, Cliona celata, Desmacidon fruticosum, Guitarra solorzanoi, Phakelleia ventilabrum).

Manuel and Antonio dove, guided by the Rov’s umbilical to the bottom, and they collected several samples that will later be analyzed in the laboratory. The truth is you could feel the happiness on the ship because since the mushroom sponge was found for the first time, we have been talking about collecting samples, and we all had great expectations. Fortunately, these expectations were met.

To finish up the day, we came across a group of some 50 specimens of common dolphins (Delphinus delphis), made up of several juveniles and between 7 and 8 young. Some of them approached the ship, while others continued with their feeding activity.

In the evening we all went out for dinner and celebrated the end of the campaign. In spite of the fact that all of the information obtained would have to be analyzed and studied, we can say that the objectives have been met.