The Sahara Seamounts. Echo Seamount. Thursday, September 17, 2009

Author: Ana de la Torriente
Date: September 17, 2009



We reached the Sahara Mountains around noon. Up to now, most of the people on board had disappeared. Some went off to read, or watch movies while others downloaded and classified their photographs or worked on video footage. Ricardo clung to the binoculars expecting to sight birds or cetaceans while Indi raced from the deck to the kitchen, identifying red-billed tropicbirds (Phaeton aethereus) while preparing lunch.

Surprisingly, no cetaceans were sighted. At least they sighted the tropicbird; it was amazing. They also confirmed that the most common species up to now around the islands, the Cory’s shearwater (Calonectris diomedea), was substituted by the greater shearwater (Puffinus gravis) as we reached the mountains.

At Echo seamount we dove with the rov. Lately, we are reaching record depths each time we submerge the rov. Today we went down as far as 593 meters. The numerous rocks on the muddy seabed make for a spectacular irregular substrate on and under which many organisms fix themselves or hide. We identified various sixgill sharks (Hexanchus griseus), abundant morid cods (Laemonema yarrellii) hidden between the rocks and a black coral (Bathypathes sp) uncommon in the Canary Islands that we already identified in the La Palma Marine Reserve in front of Pta. del Mudo, as well as on the island of La Palma or in front of Pta. del Peligo in La Gomera.

And last, we also identified a beautiful sponge that Ricardo baptized “moose horn” because of its shape.

This sponge creates structures similar to small reefs that harbour many small species.