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Blog Posts by: Alejandro Blanco

Ready to face the final stretch of the Aeolian Expedition: Here we are, just six days away from the end of the expedition, again. It seems like just yesterday that we embarked. In short, tomorrow we head to Stromboli, the closing party in Lipari and the trip home. Here’s where I say goodbye, thrilled with how everything turned out. Thank you very much, Oceana.

My first day on board this expedition, as I join for the final week of work in the deep areas surrounding the beautiful Aeolians. I was last in Salina nearly two years ago, participating in a think tank hosted by the Aeolian Islands Preservation Fund, in which we discussed potential ways forward for creating a marine protected area.

We continue with our campaign on these islands. Since we return to the port of Salina at the end of practically every day we know this town as if we have lived here for a long time, we know its people, the shops, the restaurants, the beaches, and the people know who we are. The countdown to the end of the campaign has already begun and the pace of work remains the same. Hopefully, this last week will be a productive one for the entire Oceana team. Greetings from the Aeolian Islands!

Today I was leafing through the “full-color hardcover” book of the 12.000 millas en defensa de los mares: La expedición del Oceana Ranger (12,000 miles in defense of the seas: The Oceana Ranger expedition). Looking at the photos from this trip from the port of San Diego to Tarragona, it struck me as interesting to see the ship in tropical landscapes, passing through mangroves, with red-footed marlins with blue beaks perched on the bow, sailing among pelicans, and with an underwater wildlife that’s very different from the Mediterranean.

The days pass between the ROV's deep trips to the seabed and documentation in shallower waters. The shocking scene of yesterday's trip is still on my mind and will be something I’ll never forget. We started the first dive of the day when, at about 20 meters deep, we came across a loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) hooked to the seabed by a fishing hook.

Sea turtles are in danger of extinction. Among the main threats are accidental catches, marine pollution, changes to their spawning habitats, climate change, egg collection and maritime traffic.

Eolo greeted us in the morning, creating a beautiful landscape with the blue sky, the steep Aeolian coast, and the white waves contrasting against the sea.

Today wasn’t a day for the ROV but it was for diving. My fellow divers spent their time searching for the best photo and the much-desired video and had my attentive envy from the boat.

Over the last year and months, we seem to have been asking ourselves this question more than any other time in our lives. The rapid expansion of plastics around us has already caused so much damage to our oceans, marine animals and to us, as humans.  What was once a far-fetched idea, has now become our everyday reality.

Being able to disconnect and have a day for ourselves is almost as important as a good meal on board. It helps improve the relationship between the crew, giving us a chance to rest and recover before getting back to the sea with recharged energy. Today we spend our time to doing laundry, taking walks, getting to know the island of Salinas and interacting with the locals. Tomorrow we will happily continue with our work after a day spent on land.

 

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