The Ranger, Oceana's research catamaran in Almuñecar. © OCEANA / Enrique Talledo
The Ranger sails once again, carrying out an at-sea expedition to document coastal and deep-water plastic pollution and evidence of bottom trawling inside marine protected areas in the Alboran Sea. Located south-east of the Iberian Peninsula, the sea is a well-known biodiversity hotspot between Spain and Morocco, with incredible ocean productivity generated by the unique interactions of Atlantic and Mediterranean waters. Key ecosystems are found in this area, like exceptional seagrass meadows, corals, and gorgonian colonies, as well as deep-sea canyons and seamounts — all providing shelter and breeding grounds for marine life such as turtles, dolphins, and pilot whales.
Unfortunately, the area is also heavily impacted by human activities, including destructive fishing practices like bottom trawling, which significantly damages or even completely destroys unique seafloor habitats. The coastal region is also a well-known tourist destination and is dotted with cities and towns that cater to the tourism industry and where large greenhouses, essentially forming a 'sea of plastic' on land, can be found, both of which make the area prone to the accumulation of plastics.
The expedition’s team of marine biologists, experts, and specialized scuba divers will be using a wide range of equipment to conduct the research, including a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) capable of reaching 300m, to collect data, images, and video footage to further support Oceana’s advocacy in Europe.
Stay tuned here and on our social media throughout this exciting week that also coincides with World Oceans Day and Ocean Week, as we’ll be frequently updating this page with key highlights, videos, and expedition diaries so you can travel, albeit virtually, this is wonderful gem in the Mediterranean.
Learn more about Oceana’s Ranger, one of the world’s largest double-masted catamarans, here.