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Blog Posts by: Natividad Sánchez

We have a very special contraption sailing on board the Neptune. Helena (marine mcientist and expert in morning briefings) has named it the Grabator. It is something like a rustic washing machine that cleans the seabed samples that we take with the grab. Grabator basically consists of a bucket with a set of sieves, a pipe to remove the sand and another one to drain the water. We’ve used it a few times and both times it’s managed to get everyone’s attention.

Anything can happen underwater, and even gardens are not necessarily composed of plants. In fact, one of the most beautiful habitats in the Mediterranean are coralligenous gardens, where trees are replaced by soft corals (gorgonians) and flowers give way to calcareous red algae and animals such as sponges and bryozoans. These wondrous places support a high biodiversity, and steps are now being taken to better protect them.

Today is the International Day of Women and Girls in Science,  and we don’t want to miss this opportunity to thank the women of Oceana who work so hard every day for the ocean. Marine scientists, biologists… whatever their academic specialisation, they spend their working days sailing, analysing underwater footage, reviewing documents, scrutinising data, drafting proposals, writing papers, attending seminars, debating with politicians, discussing with fishers, campaigning at international fora, giving media interviews and many other things that are too much for a single paragraph.

One of the interesting facts that we came across when we pinned our expeditions on this story map was at what time of the day we usually dive. We found out that at least one sixth of the immersions took place between 9 p.m. and 10 a.m., both with divers or with an underwater robot (ROV).

When you want to gain a better understanding of the fauna living in an area, it is important that you try to document it at different hours. Otherwise you’ll miss creatures that are more active by night and you’ll lose the opportunity to film their behaviour.

It was in 2005 that Oceana in Europe received a very special gift: the Oceana Ranger, the catamaran that was to become our research vessel enabling us to get first-hand information about the situation of the seas and the creatures living in them. But we wanted more in-depth intelligence on what was going on down there, and in 2006 we started to work with an underwater robot or Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV).

Despite its name, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) is in in charge of ensuring the sustainable management of many fish species including sharks. Over the last few decades, catches of commercially fished sharks have continually increased, however no proper management measures have been put in place and catches continue to be unregulated.

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