On-board Diary: Day two on the escarpment

Author: Silvia García
Date: August 15, 2013



Today, we conducted ROV immersions 2, 3 and 4 at the Emile Baudot escarpment, focusing on the area south east of Cabrera and starting at depths greater than 800 meters. We found some very interesting habitats. First, we saw elevations that we had assumed to be rocky, but were in fact mud based. Some of them were several dozens of meters high, riddled with tunnels dug out by crustaceans, the entrance of which were shaped like horseshoes.

We also had a chance to shoot some rocky outcrops covered with oysters (Neopycnodonte cochlear), dense groupings of brachiopods, some corallites and the rather unique presence of  a protected species in the Mediterranean, the marine porcupine (Centrostephanus longispinus), in numbers that are not commonly seen. Also spotted: a number of small concentrations of Arachnantus type sp. Cnidarians, as well as a few very hidden twigs red coral (Corallium rubrum), some sprigs of yellow tree coral (Dendrophyllia cornígera) and a few gorgonian pens, including the Pennatula phosphorea and Funiculina quadrangularis. In terms of fish, we documented several commercial species such as flatfish, crayfish, lobsters, and even a fantastic grouper. As always, many species will be identified later when we have a chance to study all the footage we've collected.

Meanwhile, the surface was dotted with recreational fishing boats and sail boats enjoying the islands and the waters of Cabrera National Park. We spotted a merchant ship further south than where we were and were lucky to also see interesting species like the endangered Balearic shearwater, a leaping juvenile swordfish, dolphins (most likely bottlenose dolphins) swimming a few hundred meters away and, right next to the ranger, a magnificent devil ray (Mobula mobular), an endangered species of ray that is currently protected in the Mediterranean.