The Oceana Ranger sets sail today from the port of Sagunto, Spain to study the seabeds of the Canary Islands and gather information to propose the designation of new marine protected areas.
The objective of Ranger's fifth annual expedition is to help Spain protect 10 percent of its marine environment by 2012, which is required by the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. The Canary Island expedition, which will conclude in mid-October, is a project supported by the Biodiversity Foundation.
Oceana will study the seamounts of the Canary Islands, as well as surrounding seabeds. A team of professional divers will photograph and film the areas up to 40 meters deep. An underwater robot will be used to film down to 500 meters deep, transmitting the images to the ship in real time for species identification.
Ricardo Aguilar, Director of Research at Oceana Europe, explains, “Most of the Canary Islands seabeds remain unexplored since the continental shelf is small and quickly drops down to 3,000 meters. This makes it complicated to know their state of conservation or identify areas of key importance in terms of marine ecology.
The Ranger expedition will sail around the main islands to evaluate the state of the already-protected areas, detect risk factors and identify new areas that deserve protection. The difference from other projects is that images will be taken and information will be compiled about places that, up to now, have never been studied.”
Currently, there are only three Marine Reserves in the Canary Islands. In 2005, after intense work carried out by Oceana’s offices in Brussels and Madrid, the EU prohibited destructive fishing practices, including bottom trawling, in approximately 650,000 square kilometers around the Canary Islands, Madeira and the Azores.
Follow the expedition diaries and stay tuned for more updates here!