After we took refuge for a few days in Barbate ( Cádiz ), due to a great storm that kept us from going through the Strait of Gibraltar, we proceeded on our way towards the Balearic Islands, which will mark the end of our Transoceanic Expedition, from the Pacific Oceans to the Mediterranean.
We cannot always accomplish waht we plan. This morning, we have bad weather, winds of 30 knots and 2 meters waves. Plans have been cancelled for the last dives to the Ormonde mount, a part of the underwater mountain range Gorringe Ridge.
Despite this, results from this phase of the Ranger's expedition, begun in January 2005 in waters of the Pacific, have been satisfactory. At the Gorringe Ridge carried out 12 dives ( each couple of divers went down 6 times ) with the purpose of documenting marine life and the state of this incredibly remarkable ecosystem, located about 150 miles from the nearest coast. It is beyond remarkable; we are aware that some of underwater scenes we have set eyes on down here have not been seen by human eyes before. We know we are making history. Research on these marine mounts and on mountain ranges around the world are very scarce.
A new day of high risk diving; the dives reach depths below 40 meters. The closest hyperbaric chamber is in Lisbon, 500 km away. Conventional helicopters will not be able to reach this place and make it back to land.
All essential safety measures are taken; there is nothing to be concerned about.
Last night, we had a blues concert at the Ranger, by Danielle, Dana ans Indi. Meanwhile, we sailed twenty miles towards the Gorringe Ridge; to the mount of Ormonde.
This time it is harder for us to find the mountain summit. We find that all the available marine charts are wronhg and that none of the references we had were correct. At last, after modnight, we find the spot: at 32 meters deep in the most elevated area.
Next morning we awoke to a tranquil sea and sky. Soon after the first team of divers went down, those of us left onboard were visited by an ocean sunfish ( Mola mola ) measuring over one and a half meters long.
This was another day spent in the middle of the ocean. Upon awakening on the Ranger, the sea was ever so still. After we spent the night adrift, we had only shifted 4 miles, which, in the opinion of the captain and sailors, is not too much.
Today, the diving team planned to do four dives. They have decided to dive in pairs and separately, in order to better control the situation. Mar was feeling discomfort in one ear, but she is better now. Everything seems to indicate this is going to be a very nice day.
After 24 hours of navigation since we left the port of Lagos and proceeding on southwest direction, we have arrived at Gorringe. The crew prepares an anchor buoy to mark the place, which also serves divers as a guide when they sumerge. Finding an adequate spot to anchor has not been easy. Using the Ranger's sonic instruments, the captain has selected several spots within a 40-50 meter diameter, down to a depth of 30 meters. Bibi, the sailor from Cambados, organizes the auxiliary boat she will use to transport the four divers, the filming gear and a torpedo. The torpedo is a submergible device equipped with an electric motor and a propeller, and it is used by divers to go for long distances underwater, without much effort. At first dive, only a pair of divers will go down, these will be Mar and Dana Harlow. In addition to doing recognizance of the spot, they make sure the torpedo works well and they take a photographic camera along with them.
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.
The Oceana Ranger's Transoceanic Expedition represents a magnificient opportunity to enjoy sightings of different species of cetaceans and marine birds. During the crossing of the Atlantic, between April 21st and June 9th, 2005, we were able to observe, and in most cases identify, diverse species of cetaceans and birds that, although a bit scarce in terms of numbers of individuals and species, it resulted interesting enough to us, in most cases.
Today we all got up early; we began leaving our beds since 5 in the morning to contemplate the spectacular view offered by the cliffs of Algarve's coast. Of course, this place has suffered the same urban abuse commited in any touristic place along the peninsular and insular geography of Spain.
Our entry to the Lagos marina is solemn, as we pass in front of the ancient fortress, which we reached through a natural channel and going under a drawbridge. A life size reproduction of an old caravel confirms to us we have arrived at port.
As you know, we have had rough seas, with the blowing hard on the prow side of the ship. By the end of the day, the weather improved. It is surprising how fast climate conditions change in the ocean. In a matter of hours, the situation can go from calm seas, without seabreeze in sight, to a storm, and vice versa. Although we know about the influence the oceans exert on the planet climate, it is in these circumstances when you really appreciate the dynamics involved, and how the sea as a whole is a living entity.