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September 11, 2009

Los Órganos, La Gomera. Friday, September 11, 2009

©OCEANA/ Carlos Suárez


We took advantage of the calm to document the sea bottom off the Northern end of la Gomera. The days continue to be sunny, and the little wind blowing makes the heat inside the Ranger too intense at times. It is a good day to go outside during the crossing to the sampling stations and enjoy the coastal scenery. We sailed parallel to some gorgeous cliffs until we reached los Órganos, an impressive geological structure formed by basaltic columns with a shape similar to organ pipes; hence its name.

The divers dove along the coastal area, near los Órganos. Initially, we planned to dive right beneath los Órganos and document this underwater geological structure. However, the strong swell made us abandon this first idea. In the surrounding area, the animal life that the divers found was much less than they had expected. They returned to the ship describing the area as an authentic blanquizal (rocky bottom) with lime urchins (Diadema antillarum), some seaweed and a narrow diversity of organisms.

We submerged with the ROV somewhat removed from the coast, off of Punta Peligro. It is amazing to see how everyone gradually picks up practice and a great deal of technique in the ROV submersions. So much so that they make all of it look so easy: steering the ROV, coordinating the ROV with the ship, and the arduous chore of controlling the umbilical cable and the winch. And so today we have gone farther out on a limb and we made a new depth record in the Canary Islands. We reached up to 558 meters.

During the submersion, the most awe-inspiring sight was the vast field of glass sponges (Asconema setubalense) we came across. We were surprised the first time we found this species in Estrecho de la Bocayna; a species that has not been described in the waters of this archipelago. However, in this case, the most notable fact was the length of the area they occupied, thus creating a whole habitat that without a doubt will be fundamental for many other species.