Today is the start of the final part of this year’s expedition. We’re going to be taking samples from the sea beds around the Balearic Islands using divers, a robot submarine and dredging to classify the different biological communities in the area. During the first few days we’ll be diving between Ibiza and Formentera, and later on we’ll be heading for to Majorca and Minorca.
And at last that is how the Ranger's port engine roared once again, with a little piece of the Toftevaag, the Alnitak project ship; yes, you read correctly, one of our clutch discs was damaged and we were desperately trying to locate a machinist who could make one for us or a workshop that could help us solve the problem, and during a visit from Ricardo Sagarminaga, from the Spanish Association of Cetaceans (SEC), owner of the Toftevaag, while we were discussing the problem, he realised he had an engine very similar to ours put away and that maybe we could try to take the part we ne
My first week on board the Ranger has been an experience full of mixed emotion, on the one hand, gradually getting to know each member of the crew has brought feelings of comfort (I feel as if I were at home) and admiration (each one of them has a vast store of knowledge that I need to catch up on). On the other hand, my sailor’s chores have afforded me the opportunity to add my grain of salt and have given me a sense of being a necessary cog in the machine…
Yesterday, the ROV technicians arrived in order to prepare the equipment and begin our investigations in the waters of the Chella Massif (Macizo de Chella), also known as Seco de los Olivos.
The ROV is a submarine Robot that allows us to film sea floors at depths which are impossible for divers to reach. Our idea is to work from the surface of this small marine mountain, which is at 70-80 meters, down to 240 meters depth.
Today was the first day using the remotely operated vehicle “ROV” aboard the Ranger. On the way out to the research sight, most of the crew members were sitting in the kitchen area. Ricardo stuck his head in the door and yelled “pilot whales.” I shot out to the deck. I don’t remember the last time I moved that quickly. When I got to the front of the deck I saw approximately 12 pilot whales, which were most likely long finned pilot whales. I had never seen a pilot whale before so this made quite an impression on me.
We woke up Sunday morning at sea and began preparations for the day. However due to difficulties with the underwater lights, the crane on the back of the boat, and the rough weather, the decision was made to head to port to insure that the boat was ready for the arrival of the ROV crew tomorrow. The ROV is a little mini-submarine that goes down unmanned and takes pictures underwater. It is very useful for exploring depths too deep for the divers to go.
There are deep water waves and an easterly wind is blowing, but the conditions are still acceptable for working. Tomorrow, the weather may worsen. We must take advantage of the weather today to continue filming life amongst the prairies of Cymodocea nodosa. The upper limit of the prairie is at 10 meters depth and the plant's shafts are more and more scattered. From here to the coast, it is a muddy area.
We left Aguadulce in search of sea grass beds again today. The first dive was in the afternoon and it was very hot onboard. After the divers returned, the rest of us went for a swim to cool off. The water felt fabulous and refreshing when I first jumped in but within 5 minutes I was freezing. It’s amazing how cold ocean water is once you get offshore, even in August.
We arrived back in Aguadulce port this morning after a rough night at sea. I awoke several times to find myself bouncing up and down off of my bed.
We spent the day preparing for the next leg of our journey. This meant doing things like laundry, grocery shopping and preparing equipment. We picked up 2 new crew members; a sailor named Concha and a new cooked named Gabriel.