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.
We sailed west overnight to Cabo de Gata. I was surprised to wake up this morning and realize that it was after 9 a.m. I stumbled up the stairs and much to my surprise; there were two new faces on board. The two new people were divers familiar with the area that would serve as guides for the day. The area we are in, Cabo de Gata, is a marine reserve that has various management zones. In some zones fishing is prohibited and in others all activity including diving is prohibited.
Early in the morning, we set up a meeting with the people in charge of the Cabo de Gata Marine Reserve in order to prepare a work plan. They come aboard at 09:00 in the morning and we exchange opinions about the best dive sites. They are exceptional collaborators, and we will also receive help from two volunteers who know this area very well and who will guide us during these few days. José Ramón Chicano y María del Mar Campra come aboard the Ranger and we set sail towards our first destination; it is Piedra de los Meros.
After one day and a half in Aguadulce port working on the boat, doing some shopping and changing crews, we set sail towards the coasts of Almería to continue our work. We need to continue to document the marine prairies on the sea floors in that area. We would also like to see what state they are in.
Hola! My name is Elizabeth Griffin and I am a Marine Wildlife Scientist from Oceana’s Washington, D.C. office. I met up with the Ranger in a small port in Southern Spain called Aguadulce on Sunday. We were in port until this morning which gave me the chance to become acquainted with the boat and the crew before we set sail. I also got to know the mosquito sharing my bunk! I was happy to have Margot, another scientist from our Washington office, here to show me the essentials, such as how to flush the toilets on the boat.
Again we have been travelling overnight to take maximum advantage of the hours of light. At 7:00 am we are in the Gulf of Almería, opposite Roquetas de Mar. We will stay here for some days to study marine meadows. The location is perfect, because this area hosts three seagrass species: Posidonia oceanica, Cymodocea nodosa and Zostera marina.
Early this morning we started off next to the coast in calm, peaceful waters broken only by the pontoons of our catamaran. Standing on deck you can see shapes on the seafloor down to fifteen meters depth. This makes Ricardo's quest for seagrass meadows a lot easier.
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.
This morning we brought divers to the Isla de las Palomas (Island of Doves). I stayed on Ranger where Carlos put me on a bubble-watching mission. While diving you breathe in air from your tank that later is exhaled to rise to the surface. A group of four or five divers emits a steady stream of bubbles that is distinguishable between the waves. It's pretty straightforward to keep them within sight, but like everything with the sea this can change rapidly. During the dive the group might stray into twos or threes and if the wind blows it can obscure the pattern of bubbles.
We left the La Manga area of the Mar Menor in the early hours of the morning so as to arrive at dawn at the next point where we will dive: Isla de las Palomas. This is a small island south-west of Cartagena that has been declared a Special Protection Area for Birds (SPA). However, as is often the case in protection areas, only the part above sea level is classified as such.