On-board Diary: Trawlers

Author: Ricardo Aguilar
Date: July 6, 2007



At dawn, we reach the coast facing Gandía and the first thing we see is a group of trawlers fishing in the area. As we head south, more trawlers appear. Some of them are fishing within the forbidden area at less than 50 meters depth, others are just on the border, while a few others are further away in deeper waters.

Flocks of shearwaters and gulls follow them, taking advantage of the discards.

We begin working with the ROV to study the sea floor and see if we spot the marks left by the trawlers. It’s a muddy area with few species on the surface since most of them live within the substrate, except for some sole (they look like Arnoglossus sp.) that take off when they see the ROV lights and a multitude of small fish larvae that position themselves in front of the camera lens like an army of eyes with transparent bodies.

Mud crabs (Goneplax rhomboides) and small gobies are hiding within the holes that cover a large part of the surface.

The marks from trawling are constant and very pronounced because the substrate is very soft. We find them up to 33 meters depth and, although they are likely to be found in shallower areas, we haven’t gone any further with the ROV. The water is very cloudy and it’s difficult to see the sea floor, especially now that the trawlers have just passed through.

In the afternoon, we take a dive with the divers in the Isla del Descubridor. There is a beautiful troittoir or entablature in this area that extends to the adjacent cove. The species we find are typical of rocky areas, such as moray eels(Muraena helena) and congers (Conger conger), as well as meadows of Posidonia oceanica, since this seagrass can be found in the lower parts. The water is cloudy here as well.

We decide to head for the port before it gets dark. We’ve had some problems with the inflatable boat's engine and with anchoring, so we’ll stay at port tomorrow to see if we can find a solution.