On-board Diary: Capes Matxitxako and Ogoño

Author: Ana de la Torriente
Date: July 18, 2008



We departed from port early in the morning in order to take advantage of the day and document the area during three dives with the divers.

The first dive was carried out off Cape Matxitxaco, an area surrounded by small fishing boats. The seabed was a continuation of the cape, a rocky arm with N-NW orientation and depths of 18 meters that drops down to 30 meters depth. On the top, the blocks of rock are very colourful and harbour a variety of organisms. Apart from the invertebrates, such as gorgonians (Leptogorgia tormentosa, Alcyonium glomeratum), anemones (Corynactis viridis, Parazoanthus axinellae) and sponges (Cliona celata), we also spotted various species of fish, amongst them, schools of small bonito (Sarda sarda), scorpionfish (Scorpaena sp.), cuckoo wrasse (Labrus bimaculatus), Ballan wrasse (Labrus bergylta), Portuguese blennies (Parablennius ruber), various eels (Muraena helena) and ocean sunfish (Mola mola).

We also carried out the second dive off Cape Matxitxako, off the eastern side, in an area known as Arribolas. The underwater landscape was completely different, comprised of a sandy seabed and a few rocks. The divers were very enthusiastic because, apart from the biodiversity on the seabed and the wonderful visibility, they spotted various species of fish: schools of bogues (Boop boops), cleaner-wrasse (Centrolabrus rupestris), ocean sunfish (Mola mola), a large group of mullets (Mullus surmuletus) and a greater weever (Trachinus draco) atop the sandy seabed. They also found an amazing field of large gorgonians at 15 meters depth, comprised mainly of Leptogorgia lusitánica and Leptogorgia sarmentosa. However, they also found discarded fishing lines on the seabed, as always.

We carried out the last dive on the NE face of Cape Ogoño. All three dives were characterised by different seabeds, but the most surprising element was the abundance of fish the divers found, many of them typically Mediterranean. In this case, the cliff drops to 25 meters depth and we found schools of bogues (Boops boops) and jack mackerel (Trachurus trachurus), seabreams (Diplodus vulgaris), seabass (Serranus cabrilla) and mullets (Mullus surmuletus).

When we finished with the dives, we took a tour of the Urdaibai estuary on the zodiac in order to become familiar with the sandy seabeds and vegetation. Then we returned to Bermeo to find the ROV technicians, with the hopes of being able to use it to document the deep canyons tomorrow.