At 8:00, as we are leaving the Ria de Viveiro, we start the day off with a large group of common dolphins –around 25-, calm seas and gentle sailing towards the mouth of the estuary. We are lucky enough to see a young dolphin jumping vigorously, lifting his entire body out of the water. It's a shame we didn’t get it on film.
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.
Many of you will not remember, or were not born yet, but years ago, some of us worked hard on a document called "La Carta de Cedeira." This text requested the banning of bottom trawling, the creation of marine reserves and support for sustainable fisheries. This would not have been significant if it weren’t for the fact that the document was signed by most of the fleets operating in the Cantabrian and Galician Atlantic.
ur second day filming the Bermeo seamount was very special. Three Minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) have accompanied our boat for more than 1 hour, getting as close as 2-3 meters from us. They were feeding, two large and one small whale, which is the one that came close to us various times. The adults were less curious. This seamount is a hot spot for marine life in the area. We’ve spotted schools of fish, dolphins, marine birds, and even the Minke whales, feeding.
We departed from Malpica and headed towards the Baldaio bank, only 3 miles off the coast. The divers are going to dive in the main canal that divides the bank in two sections. We must take into account that there will probably be strong currents. The minimum depth at this bank, measured during the lowest tide of the year, is 9 meters. The immersion will be carried out between 10 and 23 meters. Later, we head towards the Bermeo bank, 4.5 miles off Fruseira Point. At 14:00, we already have the ROV in the water.
We carried out two immersions with the ROV and two dives with the divers, covering the west, north and southeast coasts of the islands, so we’ve seen a variety of seabeds today. It’s a shame, though, that the dives with the ROV have been shorter than planned -we usually go for 3 hours- and we had to take it out of the water because we found an abandoned net in front of us, hooked on to a rock. If the ROV gets tangled in the net, we may not be able to disentangle it and, at these depths, we risk losing the ROV altogether. That is why nets, lines, ropes, anchorages, traps, etc. that we frequently find abandoned along the way are a threat to both the film crew (ROV and divers) and the environment in which they are found.
That’s the North for you. Force 6 winds mean we are stuck at port. We certainly can’t work in these conditions, but some purseiners are heading out. We spend the day in port and many locals come by, interested in our ship and the work we are doing in the area.
We are now near the Sisargas Islands, a groups of islands that were not included in the National Park of the Atlantic Islands. As such, the sea bottoms are not protected and fishing activities around the islands are not regulated according to environmental interests. The distance that separates these islands from the ones included in the National Park is significant. This seems to be one of the reasons why they were not included, because managing this whole area would be quite difficult. So we begin to document these bottoms, in order to prove they require protection.
Today, we will be filming in a seamount known as Villar de Fuertes, 12 miles off the Muros estuary. We submerge the ROV to 100 meters and find a large concentration of Venus’ girdles in the first 15 meters (Cestum veneris), a ctenophore than can reach up to 1.5 meters in length. We also spot a few salps (Salpa maxima). For three hours, we filmed a wide variety of species on sandy rippled bottoms and rock bottoms brimming with life.