On-board Diary: El Calón

Author: Ricardo Aguilar
Date: July 29, 2006



After sailing all night, we start the day on the coast of Almería, in the Golfo de Vera. We get ready to work in a seagrass meadow of mixed phanerogams (Posidonia oceanica and Cymodocea nodosa). On our first dive we concentrate on the deepest zone (at about 25 meters), where there is an interesting seafloor. This is the domain of Posidonia oceanica, although there are some common sargasso weed (Sargassum vulgare) on the rocks. We also spot the beautiful red algae Galaxaura oblongata.

As we head towards a lesser depth, Cymodocea nodosa starts to appear, until it becomes omnipresent in the most shallow part of the area. In the Mediterranean this plant tends to grow on the upper and lower edges (or on one of the edges) of Posidonia oceanica meadows. At a depth of no more than two meters we can see practically everything. There are a multitude of fish, such as damselfish (Chromis chormis), green fish (Thalassoma pavo), the rainbow wrasse (Coris julis), the peacock wrasse (Symphodus tinca), the painted comber (Serranus scriba) and many more. We also spot two species of sea urchins (Arbacia lixula and Paracentrotus lividus), another two anemones (Anemonia sulfata and Aiptasia mutabilis), two types of sea cucumbers (Holothuria sanctori and H. tubulosa) and a great variety of green, grey and red algae.

On the coastal rocks we find Cystoseira and what strikes us as unusual is to find loose rhodolites of Lithothanmion at this depth.

We ended our dives satisfied by having found what we were looking for, but the day had not yet come to an end. When it was already getting dark, a bank of about 50 dolphins (Delphinus delphis) appear on the port side of the boat. They are feeding and are accompanied by numerous Cory's shearwaters (Calonectris diomedea). A little bit further on, we also spot the occasional striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba). After about twenty minutes, as if someone had given them a signal, all the dolphins start to jump at high speed and disappear quickly. We continue our journey…