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Canary Islands Expedition 2014

A place where water and fire meet, El Hierro is a small volcanic island whose waters boast highly diverse and valuable marine habitats and species.


The glass sponges or hexactinellids are quite impressive. They consist of siliceous spicules, which draw many different geometric shapes, creating some of the most beautiful and unknown creatures on Earth. From the nearly 500 documented species a set of ten can be observed in the valley between the two peaks of the Triton seamount (around 900 meters deep). Our guide for Canary Islands sponges only includes four species for this area, in spite of  that, we suspect that some of the sponges observed have not been documented yet. Euplectella sp.

Tonight we finally were hit by the trail of the storm so the sea was quite rough. We tried to make bathymetry at night to get an idea of where to sample the next day, but heavy swells reaching up to two meters and 15-knot winds, made it hard to use the ROV, so we replaced it with Van Veen grab benthic studies.

This morning we woke up to the cry of: Whales!!! The sea was quite calm, and two northern or Rudolph whales (Balaenoptera borealis) were spotted from the Ranger while feeding at dawn.

This time we set off to the second destination of this phase of the campaign, comprising the northern mountains of the Canary Islands. This is Dacia, a mountain whose summit is at only 90 m deep and that was tried to be reached in Oceana´s first Canary Island expedition back in 2009; an unsuccessfully attempt due to bad weather.

Tonight the expedition "2014 Atlantic Seamounts" started setting off from Playa Blanca (Lanzarote). After some ROV and shipment related issues, we headed to Triton Twin Mountains, also known as The Peanut Mountains, due to their particular shape.

Navigation was tricky since a storm was approaching and the latest weather forecast indicated that it would strike our destination. Still, it was worth trying to reach these mountains, because they are virtually unexplored places.

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