On-board Diary: Niebla Seamount

Author: Silvia García
Date: June 21, 2008



We continue east along the Galician coast and head to the Niebla seamount, 6.7 miles off Cape Ortegal, at 100 meters depth. With the help of Olex, the programme that helps us establish a bathymetric profile of the seabed, we verify that the depths that appear on the charts are not correct. It is actually much deeper. Furthermore, the chart also indicates that the seamount has a peak 59 meters from the surface, although we finally decide it is an error because we cannot find it.

The seamount is beautiful, full of corals and gorgonians. The rocks are completely covered with Corynactis sp., or jewel anemones, in many different colours. We also find Paramuricea placomus, cold-water gorgonians, which have apparently never been documented in the northern area of Spain. We also document a variety of abandoned fishing gear. When we were coming up, we got caught on some gear and suffered for a while; but the technicians were finally able to untangle us.

Before we reach the second diving location, we spot 5 common dolphins swimming along with us between the catamaran's hulls, taking advantage of the shade. The afternoon’s seamount, more towards the east, is full of a variety of species of sponges, but less corals and gorgonians than the previous seamount. We are 1.5 miles off the Estaca de Bares Cape, at 60 meters depth. Not far away, during the dive, we see a cloud of gannets feeding and gulls flying about, trying to copy the gannets. It’s an amazing culinary feast worth seeing.