Today is September 1st, the return to the “daily grind” for many of you, so set aside that backlog of work for a moment. My proposition to you is to disconnect from it all for a few minutes and read the ship’s log.
Yesterday evening we set sail from Punta de Jandía, at the Southern end of Fuerteventura toward Mogán, at the Southern end of Grand Canary: almost seventy miles of sailing we planned on covering in about eleven hours. However, when we entered the channel between the two islands, our friend “Ali” (short for Alisio or trade winds in English) felt like partying and had us dancing to the tune of Isas, Folías and Malagueñas all night long.
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.
This morning, the ROV has shown us some abrupt submerged ravines below 300 m off of Punta del Morrete in southeastern Fuerteventura. Despite the persistent trade wind and the swell it entails, the submersion was done accurately, and we traveled a wide area where we once again saw sessile fauna that is typical of this sea bottom. This time we saw a greater abundance of fishes: carangid, dentex and even an anglerfish. In the afternoon, the Ranger reached Morro Jable, a tourist enclave, and here the divers visited a dive known as “El Veril”, a slope near the beach that descends from 15 to almost 40 m.
We were not as lucky today with the ROV submersions. The first thing today we tried taking a sampling in the SW area of Estrecho la Bocayna in an area where the slope descends rapidly from 100 m to 600 m in only half a mile. When we reached the spot, a NE wind was blowing at force 4, so we decided it would be better to move to another spot. We already have experience where these conditions greatly hamper the coordination between the ROV and the ship.
Last night we changed ports. We were docked at Marina Rubicón to the south of Lanzarote. We set sail from this port to continue with the task of documenting and identifying the sea bottom of Estrecho de la Bocayna.
For the moment, the weather conditions favor us, and we can continue diving, both with the ROV and divers, to the south of Lanzarote. The southern part of the archipelago is more protected from the trade winds that blow during the summer. So for now, these are the spots we are sampling. Nevertheless, we keep hoping that the winds will die down so we can approach the more exposed areas at the northern part of the islands.
Today we changed our location and travelled south, to the Bocayna Strait, to carry out two dives with the ROV, one on each side of the strait.
We documented black coral, seaman’s hand coral, yellow coral, pandora and monkfish, although in this case, the most impressive site was a field of glass sponges (Asconema setubalense) at 376 meters depth.
We reached Lanzarote first thing in the morning. To be able to work with the ROV, we scouted for a spot sheltered from the wind, to the SE of the island. We focused our attention on sampling the areas surrounding Punta la Tiñosa where there is a proposal for an LIC (Lugar de Importancia Comunitaria, or Place of Community Importance in English. This was an area proposed to be protected and included within the European framework in the Natura 2000 network.)
The voyage aboard the Oceana Ranger has been stupendous. We sailed the whole way with sails, and we took advantage of the force 5 or 6 NW and NE winds. First we passed the underwater mountains of Dacia and Concepción with the idea in mind of making some submersions with the ROV. However, in spite of the fact that sea and weather conditions have been good for sailing, the wind and some waves reaching up to 3 meters did not allow us to work with the ROV.