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July 8, 2016

Maerl, coralligenous seabeds and boats



Today we slept hove-to, very close to a huge anchorage of enormous ships. At night, apart from the light of the stars, we were accompanied by the lights of the boats, which gave the appearance of cities in the middle of nowhere. The weather is good and my first night in these new circumstances has been a success. After a tasty and varied breakfast to recharge our batteries at seven, we set a course for the position of the first ROV dive. Sailors, ROV technicians, first officer, captain and campaigner all work together to make the manoeuvre a success, again and again… seven times. The dives are the same but also different. One involves maerl accompanied by the fan-like green sheets of Flabellia petiolata; another maerl with sea-lilies with their bodies buried in the gravel but their feathery arms sticking out; another with maerl and brittlestars. And, occasionally, a rock juts out, breaking the uniformity of the landscape, sometimes with a coralligenous covering and sometimes covered by a layer of settled silt. Here, a lobster watches us from its lair, while swallowtail seaperch and painted comber mill around, and, on one occasion, we see gorgonians. Also, occasionally, a dent in the seafloor reminds us of the impact of anchors have. Some say that the impacted area is an area equal in size to the island of Malta. We hope that, among other things, this campaign will raise awareness on the need for better regulation of moorings and to allow for the recovery of the rich sea beds found in this “Bahar” (or sea).




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