On-board Diary: Gando and Arinaga, Grand Canary. October 2, 2009

Author: Carlos Minguell
Date: October 2, 2009



This morning we left the port of Grand Canary at 6:15 a.m. (This is what the sailors told me as I was catching 40 winks at that hour in my cubicle). The plan for the day began with a ROV submersion at about -450 m in Bahía de Gando on the east coast of Grand Canary. It seemed like fun to me; especially at the beginning when we saw two “galludos” (they are sharks but do not scare you) and a pair of Actinoscyphia anemones that we call “flytraps” on board because of their striking similarity to the terrestrial plants of the same name. The coincidence does not end here: Ricardo, the campaign director says that they also hunt their prey in a similar fashion (and if Riki says it, it’s a fact). Farther ahead on the muddy bottom, there was a multitude of wavy dunes that we crossed that reminded me of Playa de Maspalomas but in miniature. Quite odd.

We divers had to go into the water a few hours later: we took advantage of the fact that Ricardo and Ana (our wise marine scientist) had an interview with the press and the mayor of Arinaga to go for a lovely dive at a spot known as “El Cabrón”. Here the fish are very trusting and there is a group of grunt being stalked by fair-sized bicuda fish, although what struck me the most was the great abundance of photophilic algae that cover the rocks. I dove here years ago, and I remember that there much fewer algae and many more sea urchins. I suppose that that difference can be chalked up to the lime urchin eradication campaigns waged in recent years, but what is certain is that I got the feeling I was seeing “El Cabrón” as it must have been a long time ago, before the lime urchin overpopulated these waters.

There was still time for a ROV submersion at dusk off the coast of Arinaga: the good news is that as soon as we reached -500 m, a field of “Mexican sombrero” giant sponges (Asconema setubalense), some hake and some remains of Lophelia coral appeared that almost made the scientific staff hysterical with emotion (that’s how they get). The bad news was finding a huge industrial oil drum that some unscrupulous person decided to dump here to save himself the trip to a waste treatment plan. There is lots of junk here.