On-board Diary: Set sail from Rota

Author: María José Cornax
Date: September 1, 2007



Today, we set sail from Rota at 6:30 in the morning in order to sample some sandstone located between Matalascañas and Mazagón where we suspect there may be gorgonians. Juan Carlos Calvín disembarked today and tonight we will return early to port to pick up the photographer who will take his place, Juan Cuetos.

On the starboard, we pass the delta of the Guadalquivir River and the dunes of Doñana National Park, a sight that together with the early morning light and a cup of coffee, would leave anyone speechless. Soon after, Matalascañas appears before our eyes, an urban stain encrusted between 20 kilometres of beaches that belong to the National Park and another 30 kilometres of virgin beaches that stretch out to Mazagón, a town that seems immune to the coast laws. We took a deep breath again when we began to see the fossil dunes topped by pine forests, with multi-coloured sands outlining the coast and the area where we are going to carry out our dive.

We anchor the ROV because there are too many nets in the area and we cannot manoeuvre, and we find there is only one meter of visibility and the sea bed is full of hermit crabs, some gathered around a bivalve feast, as well as scallops that clap in front of the camera and a few sand gobies. Due to the amount of holes we see on the sea bed, we conclude that life here is mainly to be found between the water column and the deep sediment. No sign of the sandstone we’re looking for.

In the afternoon, we try another dive in shallow waters of the National Park, with the same result. We head to port to pick up Juan. Tomorrow we’ll continue to search for the gorgonians and we’ll sleep in the port of Mazagón.