We set sail from Portimão 4 days ago and headed toward Gorringe with the support of the Foundation for the Third Millenium. It’s the second time this year that we’ve tried to study and document the sea beds of these seamounts because the weather and strong winds have prevented us from doing so up to now. The forecast looked good for 3 or 4 days, so we had to give it a try.
Early Sunday morning, various crewmembers disembarked in Chipiona. Only 6 of us were left on board ready to take turns on watch during the last trip of the 2009 campaign. Our destination port: Sagunto, in Valencia.
We are back in Chipiona now. Before setting our course to Sagunto and wrapping up the campaign, we planned to work in the area surrounding Chipiona for these two days. That way, we could finish the work we did in August.
To do so, we made several submersions with divers during those two days. We documented the sea bottom in the area that we at Oceana think should be included in the Doñana protected marine area and farther offshore, at a spot where a wind turbine facility could be proposed. We took 12 samples with a dredger. We collected sediment samples that were directly analyzed on the ship.
Yesterday, we dove for the last time in the Canary Islands, so now we are organising our trip back home and waiting for the winds to calm down so we can work for a few days on the Dacia and Concepción seamounts.
Some of us took advantage of our day off in Puerto Calero to organise the trip (last chance to shop before we set sail because we estimate we’ll be at sea for at least 5 days), others to rest or get to know the towns, and others to go diving for the last time in the Canary Islands.
Today, we began working west of Isla Graciosa. The divers explored La Burrera
in Punta Gorda early this morning. Thanks to their description of Chinijo, we confirmed the effects of conservation produced by marine reserves: large quantities of seagrass, high levels of diversity among fish species and large banks of fish.
Before continuing with the submersions and heading toward the Chinijo Archipelago -our last sampling area in the area surrounding Lanzarote- we spent the day in port; some resting, others sightseeing.
While we were with Marina Rubicón, we ran into Natacha Aguilar and the Universidad de la Laguna Cetacean Research Group. They mentioned that they were returning from Concepción Bank where they have had a bad calm, and were able to enjoy numerous cetacean sightings. Now their course is contrary to ours: working in Amanay and el Banquete.
Alberto Brito boarded the Oceana Ranger first thing that morning. Alberto is a zoology and biological oceanography professor at Universidad de La Laguna. A large portion of his research has been focused on studying Canarian marine fauna. 7 Since the expedition began, Alberto got in touch with us and has been giving us his invaluable help to identify corals, gorgonians and fish. It has practically turned into a habit: after the submersions, Ricardo sends him a series of stills of species that both of them manage to identify.