On-board Diary: We depart towards the Gorringe Ridge. Sunday, June 12th, 2005
Author: Inés García
Date: June 12, 2005
Two days went by since the expedition arrived at the Portuguese city of Lagos. During this time, we have secured provisions to continue the crossing: food, fuel, ship parts, etc. Xavier Pastor, who directed operations since the month of February has gone ashore, as did Nano and José Corral. Juan Pablo, Dana and Ines will proceed along with us, throughout the crossing towards the underwater Gorringe Ridge.
We got up at eight o'clock this morning and after a half hour wait for the Channel drawbridge to be open, we were on our way. Afterwards, at the messroom a meeting took place among Ricardo Aguilar, Oceana Director of Research, and the divers who will document our next destination. They are: Dana Harlow, Juan Carlos Calvín, Juan Pablo Camblor and Mar Mas. They discussed details on how dives will be done in the next three days. Although it is always the case that safety measures are followed, this is more so in this case: we must take extreme precautions, because we plan very deep dives ( 30-40 m ), to take place in remote areas, far from land. Every diver will carry a line to hold on to the anchor line and a dive maker to indicate the diver location once dive is completed. A safety protocol has also been established to act with efficiency in the eventuality of a diving accident. There is an oxygen device onboard if an emergendy situation should arise.
En route to Gorringe Ridge we have met with 20 knot prow winds, which kept us from navigating with sails, and are going to delay a little our arrival at the underwater mountain Gettysburg. Until now, only a few birds have come to visit us: a young gannet ( Sula bassana ), a couple of Manx shearwaters ( Puffinus puffinus ) and almost at the end of the day, a great skua ( Catharacta skua ). Tomorrow we hope to find more marine life around the mountains, as they are considered to be truly authentic oasis in the middle of the ocean.
Gorringe ridge is a group of mountains of significant ecological importance. They are located at 150 miles from the Protuguese coast. Settled on marine beds over 3,000 meters deep and two of its peaks ( Gettysburg and Ormonde ) they reach barely 20-30 meters from the surface. Underwater mountains hold great importance for marine ecosystems. Great diversity of species can be found there, including endemic species that originate changes in marine currents, and many migratory animals make a pause in their journey to feed in the surronding area. We are all excited about the opportunity to dive and document an ecosystem as unknownt as this is.