On-board Diary: Sardinian waters

Author: Thierry Lannoy
Date: July 2, 2006



The Sardinian waters have revealed us a little more of the marvels that abound there.

Today we headed off early from the port of Cagliari. We sailed in a southeasterly direction in search of a shelf the remote position of which, inside a protected area, had called our attention. It is known as the de Secca di Santa Calerina shelf.

It took us three hours to reach the diving point; time which we used to get the equipment ready and to fill the bottles with the portable compressor that is working miracles. The task of filling the bottles is extremely important, while the care of the compressor is essential, given that the dives depend on its proper functioning. Therefore, we consider it to be the fifth member of the scuba diving team.

It took us a little over two hours to fill the five bottles with compressed air that we will use during the dive.

On arriving at the area in which the Secca di Santa Calerina shelf lies we rely on the information that we were given by the Olex, the sonar that enables us to plot the contours of the seabed and to get a three-dimensional image of the reef that we wish to explore. The Olex affords us a preliminary view of the place and helps us to plan the dive.

Today, Miguel Bosé forms part of the scuba diving team. He listens attentively to the final instructions before getting into the water; Miguel’s enthusiasm for diving is extremely contagious, and he is thrilled to be accompanying us on this dive. He had already shown his qualities as a responsible diver on previous occasions. Conditions are ideal for diving today.

We plan a multi-level dive for this type of immersion. This technique consists of reaching the lowest area first and then rising little by little, stopping along the way at several different depth levels. Rigorous planning is required in order to attempt this type of dive. The decompression times of each level reach must be strictly observed.

Today we are diving to a depth of 27 m, on the western side of this small underwater mountain, and we will rise on the other side. In spite of what one might expect, the deeper the dive is not necessarily the most interesting one. On the contrary, quite often the more superficial the dive the more forms of life are to be encountered...

Some 20 m down we are surprised by the thermocline, the layer of cold water that the sun does not manage to heat. The bottom of this mountain is not very interesting, so we advance our ascent towards the 15 m zone, and thus return to warmer waters…. There we come across an impressive colony of encrusting coral, the Parazoanthus that cover the sides of the mountain result in an attractive yellow surface.

Miguel spots a moray and we prepare the cameras to catch this animal that is so common to Mediterranean waters on film. Into each one of the cracks that we look into we find the blennies playing guard over their small territory, as well as several types of grouper.

On reaching the shallower level, we are confronted by an impressive cloud of anchovies, being closely pursued by a few hungry grouper. This was the sight that we contemplated on the last decompression stop, a mere five metres from the surface.

The intense blue of the Sardinia waters affords us one of those splendid views of the Mediterranean Sea and provides us with even greater motivation in our devotion to its preservation.

That’s all for now, until the next series of blue notes from the Mediterranean.