Concluding a six-month expedition that began in California, Oceana’s catamaran Ranger arrived today at its new home port of Majorca in Spain’s Balearic Islands, a strategically advantageous point from which to launch ocean-protection actions in European waters.
“Majorca, given its privileged position at the center of the western Mediterranean, will provide an exceptional base from which to operate,” said Oceana’s European Director Xavier Pastor, an oceanographer from Majorca. “Oceana is pushing forward various projects from our European headquarters in Madrid. Having a vessel with the capacity to operate in all European waters will give us the practical element of first-hand observation of everything going on in the oceans.”
Pastor headed the expedition, which left Marina Del Rey, Calif., in January and traveled more than 11,000 miles, sailing through the waters of the United States, Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Honduras, the Bahamas, Bermuda, the Azores and Portugal, before arriving in Spain. Nearly 100 volunteers from a half-dozen countries contributed to the voyage, including biologists, underwater camera operators, photographers and support divers.
“From Marina del Rey to Majorca, every leg of this voyage has been a terrific success,” said Oceana CEO Andrew Sharpless. “Thanks to our dedicated crew and volunteers, we now have a baseline of submarine images from which to protect ocean habitat and marine wildlife, which belong to the world.”
The crew shot more than 400 hours of underwater film footage and 7,000 high-resolution photographs, reflecting a wealth of marine biodiversity, in addition to depictions of the devastation being inflicted upon the oceans by destructive fishing practices, marine pollution and climate change. Oceana will use the images, as well as scientific data gathered during the expedition, to further its efforts to protect the marine environment and change worldwide ocean management.
During the transoceanic voyage, Ranger visited national marine parks in several countries and filmed unprecedented footage of active underwater volcanoes near the Iberian Peninsula. Oceana divers also explored seamounts with extraordinary levels of biodiversity that are being threatened by trawling fleets.
During Ranger’s expedition, Oceana collaborated with several organizations, including the MarViva Foundation, the Friends of Cocos Island Foundation, the Coiba National Park, the Cayos Cochinos Foundation, and Spanish ocean conservation group ZOEA.