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.
We set sail from the port of Gijón at 7 in the morning and headed towards the Avilés Canyon in order to find and document the white coral. When we reach the canyon, facing Cape Peñas, almost 9 miles from the coast, we submerge the ROV and border the southern coast of the canyon.
Here, we find various colonies of white coral (Madrepora oculata) on the steep, rocky seabed at more than 200 meters depth, as well as a many sponges, anemones and gorgonians.
What a day. Peñas Cape has surprised us with a forest of cup sponges (Phakellia ventilabrum) at only 25 meters depth. The divers dove off the Merendálvarez reef, NNE of the cape, and recognised it because they’ve seen it so many times on the seabeds we’ve filmed with the ROV, always at 80-100 meters depth.
They filmed and photographed it, documenting the enormous amount of deep-sea sponges we found in this area. Close to this location, but at 70-80 meters depth, we are once again thrilled to see the richness of the seabeds comprised of corals, sponges and large fish.
The objective today is to film in the Fría Cove where hake is fished (Merluccius merluccius) near the Avilés Canyon, and the fishermen’s association of Cudillero has requested we document the area.
We find clouds of silvery pouts (Galiculus argenteus), a small fish that constitutes the main diet for hake in this area. There is quite a large amount, so the hake have enough food, but we were not lucky enough to find them this time. Later, we head towards Peñas Cape once again in order to submerge the robot at 80-90 meters depth and document the NW area.
Today, we tried to find the white coral again. The current has made it impossible to combine the movement of the boat with the current at 200 meters depth, where the ROV was located. The boat would continuously be dragged away from the ROV and it was impossible to follow the route we had planned. We carry out two dives, without success.
We reach the Avilés Canyon, 17 miles northwest of Gijón. The canyon drops to almost 2000 meters depth and is one of the deepest in the world, only 8 miles from the mouth of the Avilés estuary or ria. Ye el paraisu de los "Kraken", in other words, it is one of the few places in the world where the Architeuthis dux or giant squid can be found.
Today we are going to do research in the Avilés Canyon. For hours, we zigzag with the boat in order to create a complete profile of the seabed with the computers on board. That way we can decide which area we are going to film. The steeper the slope, the more species we are likely to find, because specific species appear as depth increases or decreases.
We head out looking for 3 seamounts that appear on the nautical chart. They drop approximately 150 meters under the water in an area with a total depth of 1000 meters. Like other times, after various hours of searching, we can’t find two of them. It’s really frustrating because we’ve lost valuable time. At least we sighted a group of bottlenose dolphin, at least 10, and the day wasn’t lost completely.
Today was our last day in Galician waters. We take a couple of dives with the ROV, on a seamount 30 miles from the coast and on a continental shelf 25 miles from Ribadeo. These distances require almost 4 hours of sailing, so we leave the port of Viveiro at 6 a.m. Luckily, the weather looks good and we will have perfect working conditions.