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July 11, 2010

Seabed off Doñana

BY: Silvia García


© OCEANA / Carlos Suárez


We sailed over 20 nm NW of Chipiona, to the waters off Doñana that we are proposing to be protected. We know that we will find slabs of rock covered -what else would you expect- with tree coral “coral bouquets” as they are called in these parts, and many other species that live on these rocks. We’re certain that the divers will go out happy today. It has taken us a little over two hours to position the ship at the spot chosen for the submersion with the ROV. During this time, we have seen the amount of fishing gear set, many of it barely marked with pop bottles that keep the gear near the surface. This is almost like a maze to pass through with the ship among them and not carry one with you in front.

As always, filming with the ROV is interesting, in spite of how “green” these waters are due to the huge amount of chlorophyll and nutrients there are in them. This time, we found, besides the species that we already documented during the previous days, a curious starfish, the basket starfish, that is found at shallower depths in these waters than elsewhere, and even right up near the coast as also occurs with the coral we are finding. These species, that generally prefer deeper and darker waters, find favorable conditions for developing and surviving here. This is because the richness of these waters prevents light from entering that transparent waters would let in. Oh! And as the icing on the Gaditan-Huelvan cake, the ROV has given us the gift of the finding of a beautiful spider crab trying to go unnoticed on its rock.