Author: Ricardo Aguilar - Expedition Coordinator Date: October 5, 2012
Today we worked east of the Gettysburg seamount. It is here, in the valley between the two underwater mountains that more interesting species often appear (and where we often see cetaceans). The sea is almost flat.
It’s been a long but full day. We conducted dives on small 100-200 meter elevations found on the eastern slope of Gettysburg. In the first, at about 510 meters deep we found a nest of sponges (Pheronema carpenteri) on a detrital sea bottom and hydrocorals (possibly Stylaster sp.) on rocky bottom.
Author: Ricardo Aguilar - Expedition Coordinator Date: October 4, 2012
The first ROV immersio was to a sandy detrital bottom at 500 meters deep. There was little diversity. We found many solitary fan corals (Flabellum Chuni), several types of fish, a stripe, urchins, crinoids and many dead mackerels (Scomber japonicus). It looks like they were discards.
On the surface we found a lot of storm-petrels, almost all were Leach’s storm petrels(Oceanodroma leucorhoa), a Manx shearwater seabird (Puffinus Puffinus), a couple of skuas (Stercorarius skua) and a Sabine's gull (Larus Sabini).
Author: Ricardo Aguilar - Expedition Coordinator Date: October 2, 2012
According to the weather, we are going to get a break to work on the Gorringe bank. It may only be 2-3 days, so we have to make the best of it.
Today we are in port (Vilamoura) doing paperwork and waiting for the new Portuguese scientists to come on board. In the morning we’ll depart for the Gettysburg seamount and plan to return on Sunday October 7. Then we head back to the Mediterranean.
Author: Silvia Garcia, marine scientist Date: October 1, 2012
These days (September 29 and 30 and October 1st) we have been working in Faro, collaborating in a project about the effects of sea bottom trawling coordinated by the Algarve University. During the three days we have been filming the bottom opposite Faro, we have had two members of the project on board – Paulo Jorge Menano Ribeiro da Fonseca, from the Algarve University, and Rui Pedro Silva Vieira, from Aveiro University.
Author: Silvia Garcia, marine scientist Date: September 28, 2012
Everything is set, we are now off to Faro to pick up two researchers from the University of the Algarve, who will join us for two days of work in front of Faro before we leave for the Gorringe bank. We are still depending on the forecast, so maybe we spend one more day here, then leave for the Gorringe and on the way back we finish the work here. Now it is about diving in an area where trawlers don’t work regularly, in order to compare it with the situation of neighbouring, similar areas but heavily trawled.
Author: Silvia Garcia, marine scientist Date: September 27, 2012
The weather forecast is very changeable. Every time we consult it we get different forecasts to the previous ones. Making a decision this way is quite complicated, but we stronly intend to leave for Portugal. At last we work the whole day in the Chella Bank after three days moored and we make the most out of the little time we have. Thus we carry out 4 dives, three of them in moundes we haven’t visited before, and another one looking for a difficult area that we had to leave days ago due to the high amount of fishing lines entangled in the rocks. But we are stubborn and want to document it better, since the amount of white and black corals –leaving apart the fishing lines- was awesome.
Author: Silvia Garcia, marine scientist Date: September 26, 2012
We are still in port, but watching the weather forecast, and tomorrow we will go out to work. The good news today is that we have had a close look at the forecast for Portugal and we see a possible window of opportunity, so we keep consulting it the whole day and being pending of the updates. That window –though not very clear- seems enough so that we consider seriously the feasibility of leaving for the Gorring Bank tomorrow after one more day in the Chella Bank (Angela - are you translating it as Seco de los Olivos or Chella Bank ?). Anyway, this is a decision to be made in the last minute, depending on the latest forecast –whether to come back to port or to to make up our mind and begin the crossing.
Author: Silvia García, marine scientist Date: September 25, 2012
We still can’t go sailing so although unplanned, we decided to go on dive. Our divers were able to find a corner of the coast sheltered from the waves overlooking Roquetas de Mar, and dive into a magnificent posidonia seagrass meadow, one of the last barrier reefs preserved in Spain. Fortunately, it is included in the LIFE + Posidonia project launched by Andalusia, and will result in a series of management measures for the conservation of Andalusian seagrass plains, to stop destructive activities like trawling and illegal dredging, which is frequent in the area.
Author: Silvia García, marine scientist Date: September 24, 2012
These days we are trapped in port by force 5 to 6 winds. Not only can we not work with the ROV, but the turbine has also been damaged. As always in these cases, patience and perseverance are of essence: we check morning and night to see if the wind will die down enough for us to leave.
Author: Silvia Garcia, marine scientist Date: September 23, 2012
We are closely monitoring the weather, day and night, to see when it will be possible to head to Portugal, but meanwhile, it’s not looking so good for us here either. At noon a strong wind from the west forced us to cut our day short and pack up quickly after the last dive.