On-board Diary: Sperm Whale dead 1.70 nautical miles from shore

Author: Ana de la Torriente
Date: July 10, 2008



We took advantage of the lack of wind and calm day and made two dives near the shore.

In the first dive, at Bajo El Doble or Ganzanilla off De Berria beach, we found a sea bottom with rocks at different elevations and overhangs where the great majority of the rock is covered by some calcareous reds.

In this area of large sea fans (Leptogorgia lusitanica and Eunicella verrcuosa), we also recorded several different organisms such as ascidians Botryllus, anemones Epizoanthus and soft coral Alcyonium glomeratum. For the first time we found a specimen of sponge of the genus Sarcotragus, characteristic of the Mediterranean.

As in the rest of the areas where we have gone diving up to now, in spite of having seen some cabrillas (Serranus cabrilla) and wrasses such as Mediterranean rainbow wrasses (Coris julis) and Cuckoo wrasses (Labrus bimaculatus), the scarcity of fish is surprising.

As we were sailing toward Cabo de Ajo, the sight of the second dive, we sighted a dead sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) some 1.70 nautical miles off Ensenada de Isla. As it was in an advanced state of decomposition, and as we thought it may reach one of the beaches, we notified Marine Search and Rescue.

At Cabo de Ajo, at a depth of about 15 meters, the sandy bottom was crossed by 2 meter high rocks parallel to the shore. On the rocks, covered with jewel anemones Corynactis viridis of several different colors, we found sponges, hydrozoans and laminarias.

Sergio Gosalvez also photographed a spider crab Inachus phalangium amid the tentacles of Anemonia sulcata, with which it usually lives in association.

We docked again in Santander. This is the last night we will spend across from the yacht club on the Pereda promenade.