At 9am the Oceana Marviva Med research vessel arrived at the harbor Nuovo Bacino Di Punete in the South of Sardinia, Italy. Upon arrival our land based objective was to look for any illegal driftnet fishing boats docked within harbors Calasseta and Sant Antioco near Cagliari. In years past, fisherman armed with illegal driftnets onboard their boats docked in these harbors — before heading into the Mediterranean off the coast of Italy to illegally fish.
For a moment, imagine a net that descends 100ft/30meters almost as deep as the maximum depth at which recreational diver can safely descend. The length of the driftnet extends for 12 miles/20 kilometers. That is equivalent to the length of a half-marathon that takes approximately two hours to run from start to finish — if you are in good shape.
On the observation deck at 6:10 this morning — as I looked towards the horizon breathing the mist of the oceans morning haze I collected my thoughts and relaxed as I observed the subtle yet rapid change of night to day and day to night. With calm seas, I watched the rays of the sun dance along the surface of the fluid medium on a canvas in which ‘h20’ is the rhythm and light is the artist.
At 10am under the bright sun and flat seas we were fortunate to enjoy a brief moment watching a pod of common dolphins and a little baby surf the waves in front of the bow of our boat. One dolphin in particular seemed to enjoy swimming upside down watching us lean over the bow of the boat with camera and video lenses. They only stayed for a few minutes before heading back to the open sea.
Early this morning, with calm seas, at 6 am the Tunisian Navy Warship stopped our vessel and sent a platoon of 5 men onboard the Oceana Marviva Med from a small inflatable boat. At the time we were heading innocently westward towards Algeria in Tunisian territorial sea near the island of La Galite. Over the past few days the Tunisian Navy has been monitoring our activities in International waters — along the border of Tunisia and Pantalleria Island, Italy — outside the 12 nautical mile limit from the Tunisian coast.
The Spanish “furia” team is known for its technical agility, graceful ball movement. It has had a frustrating world champion curse —preventing the national team from winning the trophy over the last 44 years. Second to the WorldCup Championship the EuroCup is the most sought after football trophy. In the final match Spain versus the favored Germans — the tides have changed and Spain returned to days of glory!
A Day to Remember! June 29, 2008; 22:45
Spain is the Euro Cup Champion — defeating Germany 1-0.
Expedition Leader Xavier Pastor has directed the Marviva Med into the Italian waters South of Sicily along the boarder of the African coast heading west from Tunisia towards Algeria. Within this region near Africa, very little is known about the activity of fishermen and fishing boats. Additionally, Xavier explained to the Oceana Team that the Italian fishermen continue the illegal practice of driftnet fishing.
Throughout the world every day in every city there is a fish market just like this one — that we documented in Malta Harbor at 3:30 in the morning — that brings fresh fish to your home and restaurant each day of the week 365 days a year.
No tuna are sold here — for these fish are much too valuable. Rather the tuna are processed on boats at sea and shipped directly to Japan or to your local sushi restaurant.
In a twist of irony, with the absence of marine life, our exploration shifted towards underwater landscapes and prisms of light that dazzled the eye and sparked imagination.
From the surface, and as soon as I descended, I was immediately captivated by the vibrant colors of blue and blue/green light flowing effortlessly through the water. Looking towards the surface I could almost see the change in tone of blue as I ascended and descended with the absorption of the shorter spectrum of the red wavelengths concealed in the prism of white light.
Exploring the underwater environment of Gozo and Malta the Oceana dive team comprised of (pictured left to right) Alberto Iglesias, Gorka Leclercq, Keith Ellenbogen, and Thierry Lannoy noted very little marine life juxtaposed to some of the most scenic locations.
Over the next couple of days we dove the following dive sites: