On-board Diary: Punta de Jandía, Fuerteventura. Monday, August 31, 2009

Author: Gorka Leclercq
Date: August 31, 2009



Today, Ana de la Torriente, the Oceana Ranger’s biologist, asked me to write the onboard log because we have her tied down between campaign reports, ROV submersion logs, identifying species and more documentation topics that keep her glued to the computer morning, noon and night.

This morning, I got up bright and early with the best alarm clock on the market (the seagulls in the harbor). At seven o’clock a.m. I was filming the Ranger docked in Morro Jable harbor at dawn. The truth is, I love those first few hours of the day in the different ports, almost void of people, and only a few fishermen repairing their nets or going out to fish. You hardly hear any noise, and the soft breeze that blows at that hour of the morning makes me concentrate on my camera, and it is when I usually get the best footage.

On the way back to the Ranger to drink the much needed cup of coffee that wakes us up so we can start the day, I found the crew stretching, and the odd brave member like Carlos Minguell shaving on deck with a brush and water in a bucket as if, after one month into the campaign, he were an old sea dog.

We sailed toward Punta de Jandía to make the first submersion with the ROV less than one mile from the coast. The crew is getting used to these sheer drops at the islands’ sea bottom. In previous campaigns, the ROV’s underwater investigations took place in the Mediterranean Sea and Bay of Biscay, and to reach the bottom, we had to sail for several miles until we reached the platform’s limit. Here in the Canary Islands, we practically submerge the ROV outside the harbor...

Three hours of submersion, a maximum depth of over 300 meters and sea bottoms characterized by coral (Stichopathes sp, Dendrophyllia ramea and Dendrophyllia conigera), and a wide variety of fishes: swallowtail sea perch (Anthias anthias), parrot sea perch (Callanthias ruber), bogue (Boops boops) and sparids like the red-banded sea bream (Pagrus auriga) or the pink dentex (Dentex gibosus) displayed on both of the ROV’s cameras on sandy bottoms with rocky concentrations. This is where we came upon most of the marine wildlife.

Back on the surface, the crew recovered the ROV with skill in spite of the force 5 winds that blew out of the NE. The first few days, we noticed certain tension on deck when it came time to lower and retrieve the ROV, but in a few days, the crew picked up the trick of working when there is “fumeque”, the name for the fresh wind here in the islands.

After the dive, the most important person on board, the cook, in our case,

“Indi”, already dubbed Ferrán Adriá de la Macaronesia, works again. In spite of the scurrying, he prepared a mixture of mushrooms and some asparagus that “flies out” of the stew. After the proper buffeting to prey on the last remains of the “champis” (mushrooms), some coffee, and we set out for the second ROV point of the day.

We attempted it to the SW of the lighthouse, but the wind picked up. Due to this fact, combined with the condition the seas were in, Ricardo Aguilar decided to change the point and choose one closer to Morro Jable. There, we will be sheltered from the trade wind that prevails in the eastern islands during these days.

After three hours of submersion, and having observed several different species such as white octopus (Eledore cirrosa), amberfish (Seriola sp), an angelfish (Squatina squatina) and different corals and sponges that would have to be identified more patiently later on, we headed toward the south of Grand Canary to the port of Mogán. If all goes well, we will spend the night sailing and we will be there tomorrow morning.

During the voyage, we also made use of the time to catch up on all the minutes and different documentation jobs we have no time to do when we are “on duty”.

¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡Indiiiiiiiiii!!!!!! What’s for dinneeeeeeeeeeeerrrrrr??????