On-board Diary: Cabo de Gata - El Plomo and Punta del Bergantín

Author: Ricardo Aguilar
Date: August 3, 2006



We being our dive in the area between El Plomo and Punta del Bergantín at 18 to 30 meters depth. We will combine two areas, one sandy, rocky bottom and a wall including some caves. In the sandy area, we find some rhodoliths or maerl, but very few. Here, the Lithothamnium is stuck to the rocks and covers some areas. We see a large tube anemone (Cerianthus membranaceus) and some unusual looking sponges (Petrosia ficiformis) that eat spotted sea slugs (Discodoris atromaculata) and large quantities of hydrozoa, such as the Aglaophenia pluma.

On the wall se spot some banks of dusky grouper (Sciaena umbra), African striped grunts (Parapristipoma octolineatum) and a few striped grouper (Epinephelus costae). In shallower areas, and sheltered from the waves, the rock is eroded thanks to the black sea urchin (Arbacia lixula) and we spot various young specimens of different species of fish. These waters are also full of jellyfish, especially the mauve stinger (Pelagia noctiluca) which is usually responsible for sending bathers in search of medical help thanks to its painful sting.

At midnight, after dinner and after having put away our material and prepared the boat for sailing, we leave the Cabo de Gata Marine Reserve and set sail towards the Gulf of Almería. On the way, we spot a group of seiners fishing. Apparently, the sardine or European pilchard (Sardina pilchardus) and mackerel (Scomber sp.) catches are plentiful these days, but another southern species, the round sardinella (Sardinella aurita), is also to be found more frequently in these latitudes.