On-board Diary: Capo de Santa María di Leuca

Author: Ana de la Torriente
Date: August 22, 2008



We set sail from Brindisi toward the south of Capo de Santa Maria di Leuca, in the Ionian Sea. This is an area where deep sea coral reefs dominated by Lophelia pertusa and Madrepora oculata have been described. Several scientific campaigns have recorded colonies of these species from depths of 110 to 470 meters. At these depths, 30 different species of sponges have been recorded in association with these deep-sea coral.

After several days in port, we were anxious to get out on the water and start documenting the sea bottom with the help of the Rov. Life on the Marviva Med and the infrastructure aboard is very different to what we had on the Ranger. There is more space, crew and equipment which will enable us to reach greater depths.

When we arrived at our target area, to the South of Capo, we explored with the idea of learning a little about the bottom's geomorphology and the area's depths. We also wanted to find a place to perform the first Rov immersion tests. Despite facing the use of a new immersion system at greater depths, the coordination between the technicians and the captain, besides all of the rest of the team that helps in support tasks with the umbilical, was a success. So after making several technical adjustments, we submerged the Rov again above bottoms 450 meters deep. Above the muddy bottom, we found some sea whips, sea pens and deep-sea fish. However, instead of coral reefs, we found numerous trawling marks of different sizes. Whichever direction we went in, there were the marks left behind by the ships that use this very destructive system.

After documenting the sea bottoms to the South of Capo de Santa Maria di Leuca for two days, we headed toward the Aeolian Islands. There, we will continue our deep-sea work.