Yesterday afternoon we unloaded the ROV. It is now 11:00, and we're on our way to do a few last dredges before leaving for Valencia, where the Ranger will spend the winter. At the moment it’s pretty wavy, but we’ll see if it gets a little better and we manage to gather a few more bottom samples.
We dedicated most of the day to doing as many dredges as possible, but we also sent the ROV down for its last immersion after three years of work in the bank (Chella Bank, Seco de los Olivos). We sent it deep, to about -360 metres in an area that we hadn’t yet surveyed and saw gentle elevations in the NW area of the principal bank.
Although it was still not looking good based on the waves and currents, we headed out early to work, but this time, we used the Van Veen dredge, not the ROV. Our plan was to use the dredge to collect samples from different points around Seco de los Olivos. We got as far as 14 dredges before it became impossible to continue, so we stopped and returned back to port.
- for all of us, because although we are supposed to be working in Seco, we are dealing with 5 knot wind. It’s being difficult to document the Chella Bank (Seco de los Olivos) this year, but at least we were able to do 11 ROV immersions in the first few days of the campaign, and we know that they won’t be the last ones. Let’s see what happens tomorrow, since weather forecasts are kind of crazy.
The world is upside down: we came from offshore in the Atlantic wearing short sleeves and sandals and where the ocean was almost dead calm, to arrive into the "little" Mediterranean sea, where it is so rough for October that we are forced to stay moored in Almerimar.
Yesterday we finally had some dolphin sightings in the Gulf of Cadiz, but whales have been harder to spot. We are still trying though, and we spent the day today watching the sea. Despite the fact that the forecast was correct and fog did appear in the early hours of the morning, we managed to see one only one or two hundred yards away of the ship. Later on, in the afternoon, and in Alboran Sea, we saw almost countless striped dolphins eating and jumping out of the water.
At 9:00 pm today we’ll head back to Seco after spending a few good days of work in the Gorringe. It should take about two days of sailing, during which time we expect to see whales, particularly in the Strait and the Alboran Sea, where they are usually easy spot. But for that, we’ll need good weather, and the forecast is saying we’ll have fog the morning we get to the Strait.
These days (September 29 and 30 and October 1st) we have been working in Faro, collaborating in a project about the effects of sea bottom trawling coordinated by the Algarve University. During the three days we have been filming the bottom opposite Faro, we have had two members of the project on board – Paulo Jorge Menano Ribeiro da Fonseca, from the Algarve University, and Rui Pedro Silva Vieira, from Aveiro University.
Everything is set, we are now off to Faro to pick up two researchers from the University of the Algarve, who will join us for two days of work in front of Faro before we leave for the Gorringe bank. We are still depending on the forecast, so maybe we spend one more day here, then leave for the Gorringe and on the way back we finish the work here. Now it is about diving in an area where trawlers don’t work regularly, in order to compare it with the situation of neighbouring, similar areas but heavily trawled.
The weather forecast is very changeable. Every time we consult it we get different forecasts to the previous ones. Making a decision this way is quite complicated, but we stronly intend to leave for Portugal. At last we work the whole day in the Chella Bank after three days moored and we make the most out of the little time we have. Thus we carry out 4 dives, three of them in moundes we haven’t visited before, and another one looking for a difficult area that we had to leave days ago due to the high amount of fishing lines entangled in the rocks. But we are stubborn and want to document it better, since the amount of white and black corals –leaving apart the fishing lines- was awesome.