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Blog Posts by: Marta Fernández

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.

We’re in the land of the “tiramisu,” a dessert which literally means “take me up” (due to its coffee and sugar), and also reminds me of the orders that come from the ROV pilots below deck as the ROV climbs back up again whilst being maneuvered down below in the Aeolians depths — “two up!, five up!”

The campaign is drawing to a close and we must decide which shall be the final samples of the campaign, a dredge in the canyon of Saint George and a sampling with CTD, and two further CTD to complete the information on the canyon of Jounieh. The CTD enables us to obtain salinity data, pH, temperature and other physical parameters about the column of water at several depths... interesting information.  In total we have conducted 13 CTD dives, 52 dives filming the depths with the ROV and 12 dredges. 

Today, the day began with a major aim: investigate the depths of the Saint George canyon for the first time, never before sampled not even during this campaign. When we began the first dive, I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was coralligenous. In the first sighting of the sea floor it was strange to view that so familiar pink colour, traversed by a large group of squirrelfish... an invader species in the Mediterranean originating from the Red Sea, very close to these waters. I found this first clash very interesting...

Today we are already close to the end of the campaign. You can feel it in the atmosphere, which is a mixture of restlessness and sadness and trying to enjoy these last moments. Today involved diving in caves, with the divers excited and focused on their last dives, and us in the zodiak sailing below the wonderful cliffs and vertical, layered walls, with their holes and sparse vegetation, shelter for the shearwaters and gulls ... breathtaking slopes ...

Today in my diary, I want to talk about a parallel journey I’ve experienced reading Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, a novel by Jules Verne, who back in 1870 described quite accurately the nature and geography of deep-sea areas. Captain Nemo and his crew sail on-board Submarine Nautilus, where, through the aid of fishing lamps, his motivated and naturalistic crew discover and recount in detail and charisma ecosystems and related species.  

You get a totally different feeling when you start work on a day like today - opening the Ranger door to see the sea sparkling in front of you and a horizon stretching far and wide, and when you feel the warm early-morning sun on you after a serene and silent night’s sleep under a summer sky filled with stars.

Today has been full of visits on-board the Ranger. The kind of visits that come and go, the kind that surprise you and the ones you long for. This morning, we had an unusual visit as a voice on-board shouted out loud, “Kike there’s a strange bird on the bow”! A huge, brown-coloured bird walked right in front of us; it was a purple heron, normally found in freshwater wetlands but had decided to venture offshore.

Today we headed off for the spectacular sea cliffs to the north of the island. We cast off from the port quite late… and just in time to see the typical little Mediterranean boats, yachts and motor boats, whose captains are not the most conscientious of skippers.  And as we passed the small island of Comino, we glimpsed the hordes of boats in the small bays including some yachts side-by-side in a small space in the bay.

The vessel is restricted in her ability to maneuver.

That’s what Pere, the Captain, tells us as we work from one maneuver to another while at the same time gracefully lecturing us on international maritime norms.

My name is Marta and I’m a sailor on board the Ranger. We had a wonderful sail here, heading southeast from the Iberian Peninsula to Malta. My work has been focused on taking care of the boat and checking on the ROV as it goes in and out of the water.