On-board Diary: La Isleta, Fuerteventura. October 6, 2009

Author: Conchi de Pedro
Date: October 6, 2009



Back on the Oceana Ranger... Who would have guessed? I’m very happy.

Everything is still in its place. I have even been able to observe and enjoy some major improvements to equipment which I am constantly needing to use. An example would be a huge mechanized system for lowering and hoisting the famous ROV ballast.

Today just a few ROV submersions behind me (for now), but I can already feel their effects... my arms are no longer part of my body and my hands are increasingly more swollen and reddened.

The current crew has not changed much from the crew I met during my previous experience as a Oceana Ranger sailor. So I don’t even need to mention that I feel at ease just as I would in my own home. There are only a few new people to me, though thanks to their logs, not entirely so.

Ana, the only woman on board the ship since the campaign began in Sagunto, looks satisfied to have a female shipmate. However, with our tasks, which are quite different, we not yet found the right time for gossiping, but that will come. Always alert, writing down all types of sightings and events in the “meeting room”, watching the images that the ROV transmits in real time. I, on the other hand am on the Ranger’s stern yanking the umbilical cable up and down, getting a suntan and yearning for the “bring it all up” order to come.

Nuño, our captain, seated on his throne helps us generously with tugs, making the umbilical cable fall straight down, and it was easier for us to pull it up on deck. At the same time, during the submersion, he maneuvered again and again with a roguish effort to prevent any possible umbilical cable snag with our propellers.

Carlos Pérez, in his bathtub corner, wore down his fingers pressing buttons to raise and lower the ballast. To give you an idea, lowering the ballast means pressing the same button for approximately 45 minutes. If it is released by mistake, it will plummet out of control and end up completely on the bottom. There were only two ROV submersions today. There was no diving today because we extended the first ROV submersion considerably: up to six hours. This was because we found a very interesting area. In this area, we were able to observe two gulper sharks that swam by the ROV without even flinching. A gorgonian Isidella elongata as well (seen for the first time since the expedition began in the Canary Islands), a very odd sea urchin with very long spines (Coelopleurus sp.) for our experienced scientists, and of course, a field of glass sponges (Mexican hat) Asconema Setubalense, approximately 70 cm long by 15 cm in diameter.

I love writing in the log, and I would keep going until I bored you to death, but since good things are twice as good if they are short, I am saying goodbye until next time. I am glad to be aboard the ship again.