If space is the ‘final frontier’, the ocean depths are no doubt the ultimate frontier. To this day it is hard to imagine, despite all our advanced technology, that we know more about the surface of the moon — hundreds of thousands of kilometers away — than of the complex ecosystems that inhabit the ocean’s deep waters, just 400 m under the surface of your nearest sea.
We are all to say good-bye to 2020! It has been the most extraordinary year of uncertainties and difficulties the world over - but also a time to test our resilience and adaptability in navigating such troubled waters. For many, it has also been a time for reflection and recognizing that we will only be able to protect ourselves if we are able to protect our home – our planet.
The future of fish looks bleak in Europe. Nearly nine months since the official Brexit and after multiple rounds of fisheries negotiations, the United Kingdom (UK) and the European Union (EU) are racing against the clock to conclude a fisheries agreement. The problem? The UK is gambling with the long-term health and abundance of the highly productive Northeast Atlantic fisheries.
The survey continues a good pace. We have already observed more than twenty areas and plastics appear on all dives. Sometimes they are only a few here and there, and other times they are concentrated in larger quantities.
The lot of the seafloor is mostly sandy with green algae, although the presence of small rocks is not uncommon, where some gorgonians and sponges are located.
In the deeper areas, the seafloor has the greatest amount of mud. Many of them full of cavities and crevices made by some fish and crustaceans.
A few months ago, I was asked the usual set of questions about Oceana’s expeditions for an interview: What is the most beautiful thing you have seen? The most shocking? What is the worst thing? Unfortunately, the answer to these last two questions was the same... Real, underwater dumps, meters and meters of ROV "flights" where plastic had clearly won the battle for the terrain... I remember clearly looking up "the eyes" of the ROV (the tilt) and see, or rather, not see an end to an underwater landfill...
Day one of our mission for the search of plastics started off at 08:00 hours with a hearty breakfast. We explored areas relatively close to Pobla Marina to test out our equipment, beginning with a deep-sea meadow. We dived in one end of the meadow, while the ROV explored the other. And, although we located some plastics, we decided that the search must continue. So, we went to an area with a sandy bottom, again, no luck: the water got rough, so we had to get back on board.
After picking up our equipment and the trip to Puebla Marina, the Ranger´s home port, we finally met the rest of the crew. We all then had an introductory meeting where we planned for the days ahead and then set off to get everything ready for tomorrow. We´re all excited and looking forward to this five-day survey!
Did you know how many amazing and unusual features lie deep in our ocean, some of whose uniqueness allows whole ecosystems to live within them? Here are some Oceana discovered in European waters on our research expeditions:
3D yellow tree coral (Dendrophyllia cornigera, Galicia - Spain)