On-board Diary: September 22-25
Author: Thierry Lannoy
Date: September 25, 2008
On September 21, the dive team contacted the ZOEA dive centre, in Palma de Mallorca. We had already worked with this dive centre on other occasions and they had always been very professional and shown much interest in raising awareness and protecting the reefs in the Balearic Islands.
Responsible dive centres usually constitute a valuable source of information about the conservation of the marine environment and the local dynamics between the different sectors; the personnel at ZOEA proved they were dedicated to these issues. Contact your local dive centre for information about the situation of the marine environment. The beauty of the oceans and seas constitutes their livelihood and they are usually very keen on protecting their workplace for the benefit of all.
We organised the first dives in the Sa Dragonera Reserve, an island southeast of Mallorca. Amongst other objectives, we were looking for a specific alga, Cystoceira, in order to document it. This dive spot did not disappoint us because, apart from a large quantity of algae, we also found a well-conserved reef. During the deepest portion of the dive, we spotted an impressive group of barracudas, who seemed the true owners of the place, peacefully dominating their territory. There were more than one hundred barracudas grouped together here and seeing them swim in formation was an unforgettable sight. The presence of such a large group of these specimens is a sign of the reef's good state of conservation.
In shallower waters, we spotted the species that are the delight of the divers in the Mediterranean: salemas, rainbow wrasse, greater forkbeards, damselfish and also the elegant nudibranch, the Flabellina.
For the next few days, we dove near the Island of Toro also located within a marine protected area of the Balearic Islands. We also spotted the barracudas there, in large groups, close to 30 meters depth. We had to carefully plan the dives to take advantage of our time limits. Some of us used a special non-air gas mixture called Nitrox in order to stay underwater longer and document the barracudas.
The underwater part of the Island of Toro is formed by vertical walls that fall 50 meters. We used the multi-level technique to organise these dives, starting at the deepest part and then slowly rising and stopping at different depths. This technique allows divers to optimise dive times at each depth and avoid the risk of decompression.
The waters of the Balearic Islands invite you to dive down to the depths. Visibility is excellent (over 40 meters) and the water temperature is 25 degrees at this time of the year.
During the last dives, we filmed the Cystoceira we were looking for. It was a veritable gift; one more offered by the clear and welcoming waters of the Balearic Islands.