Today, the day began with a major aim: investigate the depths of the Saint George canyon for the first time, never before sampled not even during this campaign. When we began the first dive, I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was coralligenous. In the first sighting of the sea floor it was strange to view that so familiar pink colour, traversed by a large group of squirrelfish… an invader species in the Mediterranean originating from the Red Sea, very close to these waters. I found this first clash very interesting… we are in Lebanese waters and I was keen to learn what other differences we would encounter.
During this first dive and during the processing of a varied sample which was brought up by the ROV, I recalled times sampling the coralligenous sea floor and mäerl beds in the Menorca Channel in order to assess the impact of trawler fishing banned since 2006 by the European Commission and, I smiled recalling when Marta Carreras from the Balearic Isles sent me the press release some weeks ago that 1,400 km2 of the Channel had been protected.
In this campaign, I participated offering scientific support to Silvia and to professor Gazhi Bitar, also a passionate and very knowledgeable of the seabed at various points of the Mediterranean… decades ago he sampled them with autonomous diving equipment, wow!
The day ended by reviewing the ROV images while we chatted and dreamed of protecting this “rose-coloured” habitat across the entire Mediterranean.