On-board Diary: 01 July 2011

Author: Carlos Minguell
Date: July 1, 2011



We start off July in a good way, that is, diving. The first day in Ponta dos Caminhos, a pretty original name for this area, where many geographical features were named after saints or virgins. We get into the water next to the rocky cliff in order to explore various caves and arches in the area. After crossing though one of these and being tossed around by the groundswell, I quickly realize that I won't be taking any decent photographs with all this movement, so I shoot some jewel anemones and we head toward deeper waters further from the coast. After 10 meters depth, conditions are better and I amuse myself with a friendly blenny living in an old bottle of wine (for blennies, this must be the closest thing to a chalet in the mountains), some sea slugs and a good variety of sea fans. Time to get out of the water and sail to Martinhal, a protected area off Sagres that includes various islets located very close to each other.

We dove off the furthest islet, Pedra de Martinhal, and without a doubt it’s the best dive we’ve done up to now in the Algarve: The worst part, at the beginning, when we found a chain of nets deployed in the deepest part (our guides explain that it’s allowed here, despite the proximity to the islets), but from then on, we enjoy documenting a wealth of sea fans in various colors, bryozoans (false coral) and more fish than in any other area. We start ascending as we go around the rocky wall and find many sea slugs and a curious octopus who isn’t scared off when I get close with my camera, probably because he sees his reflection in the glass. The dive ends off a wall a few meters from the surface, with complaints about the groundswell that doesn’t let me take any good photographs of the variety of jewel anemones covering the rock. Here, they're clean of sediment, they’re larger than the ones we’ve seen in deeper waters and show different combinations of bright colors that make me think their name is so appropriate; they are truly the jewels of the sea.