Today is the first real day of the 2013 Oceana Baltic coastal expedition. After driving from Madrid to Sweden with our caravan, the pickup truck, the trailer with the RIB and the van, we spent yesterday, the World Oceans Day, in Malmö. We participated in the launch of the Race for the Baltic, with a number of other organizations that are concerned with the fate of this sea. Our divers teamed with many others in the “scrap hunt” of the bottom of the harbor, and we tested our new mini-ROV by documenting that garbage retrieval operation as it happened.
But today is when the real expedition starts. This morning the convoy of Oceana vehicles left Malmö early in the morning and headed to Mölle, a picturesque small harbor in the Western limit of the Swedish part of the Sound. It took us only one hour and a half to get there. Immediately, the large RIB was launched to the sea by its pickup truck through a very convenient ramp in the port, and the works to install in the boat the mini ROV equipment lasted approximately one hour until everything was ready to be tested for the first time in this very special expedition. This is the first one we do following the coastline by land instead of sailing offshore with a large ship, the “Hanse Explorer” as we did in 2011 and 2012. A team of eight scientists, crew members, photo and video guys and ROV operators left harbor to test the ROV in the waters of the Kullen marine reserve. The team was three hours out, and came back very satisfied with the results. The small ROV is very appropriate to work from our rigid inflatable boat, and it can be perfectly piloted from its deck.
Under the limited visibility to which we have already been used in the Baltic, we managed to document a good number of species of organisms at a muddy depth of 25-35 meters. Among them, sea pens with burrowing megafauna and hermit crabs. The dive of the ROV lasted a bit more than one hour, and then the inflatable boat returned to harbor, to have the robot crew to be replaced by the four Oceana divers that then took off again to carry out a scuba diving operation that lasted one hour more, in the course of which they also filmed and photographed the area, this time at a different spot and depth. Main species found were flounders , small cods, starfish and crabs.
The boat was back in the harbor at 6:45 pm and, after recovering and organizing all the material we started to head back towards Malmö, where we spent again the night. All together, it has been an excellent first day, with sunny skies during part of it. All the operations run OK without any important problems and a learning experience to smooth a few procedures to make the time management just a bit more efficient.