A team of scientists, divers, photographers and video cameramen will be travelling on board the “Oceana Ranger” catamaran to document underwater life and the threats being posed to its survival.
Oceana is embarking on its first transoceanic expedition, a five-month journey of more than 10,000 nautical miles from the Pacific Ocean waters off the west coast of America to the Mediterranean Sea. The aim of the expedition on board the catamaran “Oceana Ranger” is to document and film the diversity, abundance and importance of underwater life and the threats being posed to ecosystems that are vital to our understanding of the dynamics of the oceans.
On its journey along the coasts of more than 10 countries on three different continents, the Oceana research catamaran will be visiting areas that are key to understanding where and how the trade in shark fins started, discovering where the sea turtles spend their “lost year” between the beaches of Florida and Georgia and the Mediterranean Sea, examining the damage that the mooring of huge cruise ships causes to the sea beds, and admiring seamounts rich in corals, gorgonias, sponges, sharks and other species. It will also be documenting the accidental catches of dolphins and sea turtles by illegal drift nets and superficial longliners, and the destruction of the sea beds by bottom trawling gear.
The expedition, which left from Los Angeles –following a press conference with the actor Ted Danson- is being carried out on board the “Oceana Ranger”, a 71-feet long, 32-feet wide double-masted ocean-going Ketch catamaran with two engines as back-up propulsion. The “Oceana Ranger” is one of the largest catamarans in the world, designed to be able to sail without refuelling for long periods of time on protracted oceanic voyages. It is equipped with solar energy panels, a desalination plant and tanks for containing sewage until it can be treated on arrival in port.
The transoceanic expedition is an ambitious project headed up by Xavier Pastor, Oceana’s Director in Europe. The leading international organisation for the defence of the oceans is taking on this challenge barely a year after opening its offices in Europe, with the aim of demonstrating to the general public the essential role played by the oceans in terms of the survival of the planet.
“In its previous life, the Ranger’s mission was to bring healthcare to the people of Polynesia; as Oceana’s ship, its mission is to bring health to the animals and ecosystems of our threatened oceans,” said Pastor.
A large proportion of Oceana’s future projects will be tackled with the catamaran forming a fundamental part of the organisation’s research team. For this purpose, the vessel has been equipped with a portable laboratory for collecting samples and analysing environmental parameters as well as technical equipment for photographic documentation and filming of both the underwater world and the surface.
The scientific team on board the “Ranger” will be made up of a group of marine biologists from Oceana, divers from the marine study and awareness centre ZOEA, in a special collaboration with Oceana, and photographers and video cameramen of international stature (such as American Bob Talbot, an honorary member of Oceana’s Board of Governors, and Spaniard Mar Mas) who will be alternating on the different sections of the catamaran’s journey. As well as Xavier Pastor, the expedition’s coordination team includes Carlos Pérez, head of Logistics, and Ricardo Aguilar, Oceana’s Director of Research and Projects.
During the voyage, which will last for approximately five months, Oceana’s catamaran will be sailing through waters of recognised scientific importance in terms of the study of marine biodiversity: from Los Angeles it will be crossing the North American Pacific to the Revillagigedo Islands (belonging to Mexico), then continuing to Coco Island, Golfo Dulce and Coiba (Costa Rica and Panama). At this point it is anticipated that the members of the expedition will make contact with the MarViva Foundation team, an civilian coastguard project designed and developed in 2002 by some of the people who now work for Oceana, headed up by Xavier Pastor. Later, the “Oceana Ranger” will be traversing the Panama Canal and heading for the Caribbean, reaching the coasts of Florida. From Miami the catamaran will set sail on the last part of its journey: to the Bahamas, Bermuda and the Sargasso Sea, the Azores, Gibraltar and the Balearic Islands, its final destination in the Mediterranean.
Once in Europe, Oceana’s catamaran will be instigating a number of marine research and dissemination projects in the waters of Andalusia, Morocco, Algeria, the Balearic Islands, Murcia, the Valencian Community and Catalonia
Majorca will be the base from which Oceana will be working from now on in the Mediterranean