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August 31, 2007

At the mouth of the River Guadalquivir

© OCEANA / Jesús Renedo


I never thought I would go back to working on the Ranger in Andalusia, much less so in Huelva. It’s a strange feeling to see a place you are so close to from such a different perspective. This morning we set out from the port of Rota and headed for the mouth of the Guadalquivir to document the sea bed in the area of the National Park of Doñana with the ROV and the divers, but with poor expectations owing to the visibility conditions the area offers.

During the morning we tried to make our first dive but the water, which was almost opaque, didn’t allow us to document the area so our divers soon had to give up.

Navigating close to the river mouth, right on the National Park nautical mile limit, we were surprised to see 6 dragnet boats, fishing at a depth of barely 9 metres. This being such a “visible” operation, together with the fact that a Government of Andalusia vessel had passed by and that at that moment we didn’t have the corresponding legal papers to hand, kept us from lodging a complaint. Shortly afterwards, when we reached port that night, we were able to confirm that dragnetting is forbidden in the fishing Reserve at the mouth of the Guadalquivir in order to protect an important hatching area.

In the afternoon, when the tide came up and we were able to dive again, we located a spot away from the coast to try and avoid being affected as much as possible by the river. At a depth of only 16 metres the water was so turbid that visibility was barely one metre and the mud from the sea bed lifted at the slightest movement of the ROV so we had to end our dive. Despite the difficulties of the muddy sea bed and the turbid water, we are all aware that this is one of the manifestations of the importance of this area. Its abundance of fishing resources depends on the contribution of nutrients that the river brings from other areas, which fertilize the sea and give it more life.

Tomorrow we want to return to work in Doñana, but further away from the river and near some rocks beyond Matalascañas to see if we have better luck.