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Blog Posts by: Jorge Blanco

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...

6:00 – The raise the anchors while we’re still in bed, with a long trip ahead to our first diving spot, we set-off earlier than usual. 

6:45 – Various alarm clocks ring at the same time, signaling another day of hard work lie ahead.

7:00 – The smell of a freshly-made food reaches its way to our bunks, Cris has our breakfast ready. Carlos, he’s in charge of the toasts.

“Pass me the coffee”.

“Anyone want more toast”?

“What’s in this juice”?

“Cris, is there any yoghurt”?

With Swedish waters behind us, we set-off for the second part of expedition in Finland. Our welcome here couldn’t have been any better: just a few miles after crossing the “border”, we arrived in an Marine Protected Area (MAP) for seals. Anchoring isn’t allowed within a MAP, so we anchored northeast of the zone and, within a few minutes, had our first visit…

Without a doubt, the Baltic Sea is different.

As an enclosed sea, its salinity is much lower than usual, and this salinity decreases as the latitude increases—which also makes for lower water temperatures when compared to other seas. The sea is also shallow, which tends to make it favorable for sunlight to reach the seafloor.

Just imagine breathing under water. Imagine diving at huge depths. Imagine being around the wonderful coral reefs or incredible bamboo coral. Imagine living side by side with deep-sea sharks, sea sponges or species with unpronounceable names but beauty beyond words.

This is exactly what we get to experience on board the Oceana Ranger – well through our underwater robot. We do get to see what the robot sees and get to imagine what it feels like for our true stars of the expedition – the living creatures that live hundreds of metres below the oceans’ surface.

7 areas, 26 days, nearly 500 square km, one boat and all the excitement in the world as we set out on this expedition in the Mare Nostrum on a quest to protect the depths of the Aeolian Islands—where its 29,500 lucky inhabitants get to call these beautiful volcanic islands home.


A World Heritage Site since 2000, these islands have numerous protected areas to safeguard its land-based heritage sites, but its surrounding seas have been left a bit forgotten. And that’s just the reason why Oceana Europe is starting its twenty-sixth expedition today.

The human factor is undoubtedly the most important thing on any campaign. You can have campaigns without ROV, without dredges and without CTD, but you can’t have a campaign without a crew. The Oceana crew for this campaign has stayed steady at around 18 - 20 people. In theory, it should be hard to all live together on a 50-meter boat for two long months of hard work. In theory…

Back on board the Neptune to launch our second research campaign in the waters of the North Sea. There’s rough weather today, so the work we do on board is completely different: material checks, operations tests, meetings and “office work” take up most of our day. However, today I would like to talk about something that has made it possible for us to be here right now doing research in this sea: what goes in to preparing the campaign, not only at a purely scientific level but in terms of administration.

We have just reached the end of the first week of the expedition and, watching the weekly video from our on-board artist Kike Talledo, it’s time to pause for a moment and take stock of the week. Of the nearly 200 hours we’ve spent plying the Lebanese Mediterranean, more than 24 have involved underwater recording in 18 dives by the ROV. We have managed to collect more than 40 samples in 5 dredges. We have ascertained the physical-chemical characteristics of the water in different places thanks to 8 CTD launches ...

Second day of “rest and relaxation” in Beirut. During campaigns in which we barely return to port, you appreciate these days, either more or less complicated, with more or fewer pending tasks, because what is clear is that they are different kinds of days.