Being an underwater photographer is fun – but sometimes brings a bit of misfortune – like on diving day today when I wasn’t able to dive myself. But our campaigner has insisted I do this so here I am with a cold but ready to give it a go.
We’ve had a grey and rainy day today with enough morning wind to make us change our initial plans for the ROV into a dive to hunt for caves along an amazing cliff off the south of the island.
Let’s be honest. One day of rough seas can be useful for me to catch up with processing images and metadata, something that the daily working dynamic does not give me enough time to do. The problem is that today is the third day in a row that we haven’t been able to dive because of the strong wind, and nobody likes that at all.
Good news: today there was no mud at all! The bad news is that neither did we see rocks or corals or sharks (of any colour) nor any other type of marine animal. At least it was all for a good cause, since the Ranger stayed berthed to welcome some distinguished visitors: in the morning Ms. Teresa Catelani, EU Monitor for the European Commission, paid us a visit and in the afternoon it was Mr. Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.
Since the Ranger has an American flag and today is America´s Independence day, the campaign´s Director granted us the day off and a roasted suckling pig along with some “Rivera del Duero” wine. Ah, such a nice time we had… No, just kidding. I think today we have “eaten” more mud than in the whole month of June; two long immersions and only a couple of rocks greeted us. Maybe some living soul, I could not really tell as all in my head is full with mud. I know I said this happens and this is equally important to scientific research.
As the weather forecast was hovering between awful and worse, our campaign director decided not to sail today as working conditions were too rough. So we took advantage of our day off as people normally do: oversleeping, enjoying a quiet breakfast and doing some sightseeing. We visited the northern part of the island were the waves were breaking violently; luckily we stayed inshore today.
Last night FC Barcelona won the Champions league. That is the only interesting event I can recall from the last 24 hours that hasn’t been as exciting as I would have expected. Still, the ROV went over more than one kilometer - at depths of 954m -this might appear easy, but it is actually tough work to go through. But days like these come along: tons of mud, a lot of stones and barely an animal to spot.
A flaw in the ROV´s HD dive filming system meant a day off for part of the crew: we had to wait for the replacement parts so it could be repaired. I was hesitating whether going walking through the beautiful forest that crowns the island, or swimming in the no less stunning coast of La Restinga. The dilemma was solved by Günter, director of the Fan Diving dive center, who told me they had just dived among hundreds of Oceanic puffers (Lagochepalus lagochepalus). The die was cast.
Today we the divers have a double session, like in the local cinema when I was a boy. We are delighted, even more when the place promises: we are referring to the surroundings of La Herradura, on the coast of Granada, an area that stands out because of its rich biodiversity, especially when it comes to invertebrates. Firstly, we dive in the deepest area, Punta de La Mona, where we descended to -38m to find a lovely scenery of coral trees that, together with big tube anemones, stand out like white marks on the rocky bottom.