On-board Diary: El Hierro. September 23, 2009

Author: Gorka Leclercq
Date: September 23, 2009



We reached the island of El Hierro, coming from Mógan, south of Grand Canary. We had to stay two days at port for repairs on board and to recharge our batteries for this new phase of the campaign.

If the weather holds out, the idea is to go from west to east, on the north face of the archipelago's islands, the ones most exposed to wind and heavy seas.

So we set sail to El Hierro yesterday and it took us 15 hours to arrive. We are now facing Los Roques de Salmor, on the northwest coast of the island.

During the first dive with the ROV in front of Los Roques, we were surprised by the extensions of crinoids, dead man’s finger coral (Paralcyonium spinulosum) and cnidarians (Nemertesia ramosa), although we had documented these species during other dives, we had never seen them in such high concentrations.

After the ROV, the divers get into the water near Roque, on the southern face and as I am descending, I realise there is a vertical wall that plunges into the deep blue to great depths; I continue down to 35 meters and still can't see the bottom although visibility is almost 40 meters, because I can see the surface clearly from here; so I don't think of going any deeper and I concentrate on filming the wall covered in algae and sponges and other invertebrates. We finish diving and, as usual, we feel the urge to discover the other faces of Los Roques, but the campaign is planned so that not a minute is lost, and we head towards the next spot where the ROV will be submerged in the Bay of Las Calcosas, further north.

During the dive, we identify another sixgill shark (Hexanchus griseus) and observe a cnidarian (Anthomastus sp) that was not initially described in the campaign, although we have documented it four times during the expedition.

After we finish the dive with the ROV, we head towards the port of La Estaca, where we will spend our last night in El Hierro before we start heading east along the islands. Hopefully, the weather will hold out so we can work under good conditions.