Oceana expedition in the Alboran Sea

Documenting plastic pollution and other threats to marine life

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Overview

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.

Diaries

June 13, 2022

Huge trawl net!

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June 11, 2022

Another windy day

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June 10, 2022

Very low biodiversity

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June 9, 2022

Towards Chella Bank

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June 8, 2022

Celebrating World Ocean Day

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June 7, 2022

Setting sail!

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The Crew

Vera Coelho

Deputy Vice President, Europe

Vera Coelho

Senior Director, Advocacy in Europe

Alejandro Blanco

Deckhand

Marco Antonio Panosian

Captain

Sergio Losada

Diver

Jorge Blanco

GIS and expedition logistics coordinator

Ricardo Aguilar

Expedition leader & senior advisor

Enrique Talledo

Underwater Photographer & Videographer

Jose Manuel Saez

ROV Pilot

Irene Campmany

Senior Communications Officer

Silvia García

Marine Scientist

Aaron Sáenz

Deckhand

In the News

June 17, 2022

Oceana expedition to Alboran Sea uncovers underwater oasis and ‘wasteland’

Gathered data will also support advocacy efforts to ban bottom trawling in European Marine Protected AreasSingle-use plastics, abandoned fishing gear, and untreated waste most common pollutants found in seven-day expedition Madrid – Oceana concluded its expedition to the Alboran Sea (South of Spain), where the organisation gathered first-hand evidence of…

June 13, 2022

Huge trawl net!

Unlike yesterday, we started off with early hour winds that died off throughout the early afternoon, giving us again an almost flat sea. We first sailed to the top of the Chella bank to check some possible trawl marks. On our way, we spotted several fishing boats, including two trawlers…

June 12, 2022

Fantastic finding: a coralligenous reef!

Though the weather forecast was yet for another windy day, we woke up to a gentle breeze and a nearly flat sea.Our first first scuba dive was in an area with maerl and coralligenous seafbed bording the coastal MPA of Seco de los Olivos. Later we moved a little deeper to…

June 11, 2022

Another windy day

Another windy day and we can’t go too far off, rather we decided to stay close to shore near Roquetas de Mar. Our first scuba dive was in a seagrass barrier reef, where we found that trawlers have destroyed parts of the meadow. Though older, the marks were still very visible….

June 10, 2022

Very low biodiversity

The winds picked up today, but the Ranger resisted and we still were able to work, albeit with minor changes on where we’d dive. In all, we conducted several ROV dives and one scuba dive.We took a couple short “inspection dives” at various points not far off the coast of…

June 9, 2022

Towards Chella Bank

We sailed towards Chella Bank to look for signs of trawlers at the top of the seamount. Despite the poor weather, we were able to conduct and ROV dive down to 100 m. From what we see, it seems that some trawlers are using a narrow, sandy path between two…

June 8, 2022

Celebrating World Ocean Day

Happy World Ocean Day from the Ranger!Today, the ocean gifted us with an escort of common dolphins riding our bow waves as we made our way to the Marine Protected Area (MPA), Maro-Cerro Gordo, off the coast of Almuñecar.Our records show that trawlers destroyed a large part of the seagrass…

June 7, 2022

Setting sail!

Aside from a handful of small surveys and maintenance runs, it’s been nearly 600 days since the last time the Ranger had gone out to sea. Before, we had at least one or more expedition per year for 15 years in-a-row, but the global pandemic unfortunately put an end to…