On-board Diary: In Cantabria

Author: Ana de la Torriente
Date: July 4, 2008



First thing in the morning, we returned to the Llanes Canyon and submerged the ROV up to 240 meters depth. We documented the flat, sandy seabed with low density of organisms. Although we did find various specimens of the anemone Actinauge richardi, holothurians Eostichopus regalis and sea urchins Echinus acutus. It seems especially important that we are recording few fish sightings during the entire campaign off the Cantabrian coast.

On our way to the next port, Santander, we dove in front of Cape Oyambre, less than 1 nautical mile away. Despite the low visibility, we spotted various species of sponges, sea urchins and mullets (Mullus surmuletus) on the mixed seabed comprised of stones, rocks and sand.

We recorded the depth in order to carry out a dive with the ROV in the Torriente seamount, but we had to change our plans because we found an abandoned net hanging across the rocks and could not risk the ROV getting tangled in it.

In the Cabezo Coraje seamount, in front of Calderón point, we submerged the ROV to 80 meters depth. We found a sponge field comprised of Phakellia ventilabrum on the rocky, sandy seabed. This species usually occurs in places with strong currents where suspended organisms are easy to catch.

We also documented other sponges from the Geodia sp. family, yellow tree coral Dendrophyllia cornigera, brachipods, gorgonians (Eunicella verrucosa, Paramuricea cf. placomus), bryozoans and sea stars (Masthasterias glacialis, Chaetaster longipes). As far as fish species are concerned, we found cuckoo wrasse (Labrus bimaculatus), seabass (Serranus cabrilla), rainbow wrasse (Coris julis) and pollack (Pollachius pollachius).

During the trip, we sighted a group of common dolphins (Dephinus delphis) comprised of approximately 25 individuals in front of Ruiloba Point. There were 5 calves amongst the group and that is probably why they were quite skittish as they passed alongside the boat. Later, we sighted another group of 8 bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) approximately 5 miles from the coast in front of Calderón Point.