We start off July in a good way, that is, diving. The first day in Ponta dos Caminhos, a pretty original name for this area, where many geographical features were named after saints or virgins. We get into the water next to the rocky cliff in order to explore various caves and arches in the area. After crossing though one of these and being tossed around by the groundswell, I quickly realize that I won't be taking any decent photographs with all this movement, so I shoot some jewel anemones and we head toward deeper waters further from the coast.
I get out of bed, and the sun is almost an inch above the horizon. Not that we´re late risers... here it´s early dawn, just after five and already daytime. Night falls at nine, giving us more than 16 hours of light each day. And with good reason, since my day is fully occupied.
As the Oceana Ranger must remain in port for ROV repairs (this afternoon the specialist in charge of it arrives), Ricardo has decided that we divers should spend the day on an unusual search: locating and documenting some Mediterranean madrepora Cladocora caespitosa colonies that were filmed briefly during an Oceana Ranger expedition in 2006. This coral is on the decline in the Mediterranean and its small colonies, of a size that does not usually exceed 20 cm in diameter. It is found spread out on shallow seabeds of our coasts.
This morning we left the port of Grand Canary at 6:15 a.m. (This is what the sailors told me as I was catching 40 winks at that hour in my cubicle). The plan for the day began with a ROV submersion at about -450 m in Bahía de Gando on the east coast of Grand Canary. It seemed like fun to me; especially at the beginning when we saw two “galludos” (they are sharks but do not scare you) and a pair of Actinoscyphia anemones that we call “flytraps” on board because of their striking similarity to the terrestrial plants of the same name. The coincidence does not end here: Ricardo, the campaign director says that they also hunt their prey in a similar fashion (and if Riki says it, it’s a fact). Farther ahead on the muddy bottom, there was a multitude of wavy dunes that we crossed that reminded me of Playa de Maspalomas but in miniature. Quite odd.
This morning, the ROV has shown us some abrupt submerged ravines below 300 m off of Punta del Morrete in southeastern Fuerteventura. Despite the persistent trade wind and the swell it entails, the submersion was done accurately, and we traveled a wide area where we once again saw sessile fauna that is typical of this sea bottom. This time we saw a greater abundance of fishes: carangid, dentex and even an anglerfish. In the afternoon, the Ranger reached Morro Jable, a tourist enclave, and here the divers visited a dive known as “El Veril”, a slope near the beach that descends from 15 to almost 40 m.
After the ROV took up all the hours in the water for a few days, on Saturday the 23rd, we divers submerged again with the intention of documenting the "Secca del Capo" bottom. This is a seamount located at a considerable distance from the coast between the islands of Salina and Panarea.
The mound rises from hundreds of meters deep up to just 6 meters from the surface. This makes it (at least in theory) a suitable place for finding abundant fauna, especially large and pelagic fish.