Oceana scientists will finish documenting Chella Bank, a seamount off the Almería coast (Spain) that is part of LIFE+ INDEMARES
Today Oceana launched its 2012 Ranger Expedition, “Exploring Ocean Depths”, which will be almost entirely devoted to documenting Atlantic and Mediterranean seamounts. For the first time ever, the campaign will not include a team of divers. Instead, due to the depths of the habitats that will be studied, photo and video recordings will be taken exclusively by a ROV (underwater robot).
These seamounts include Chella Bank or Seco de los Olivos, a seamount surrounded by smaller peaks off the Almería coast (South-East Spain). Oceana is the partner in charge of this location within LIFE+ INDEMARES, a European Union project on the research and protection of marine areas. This will be the third and last year of exhaustive fieldwork, and the images obtained during this expedition will complement those from previous campaigns.
“Oceana is a pioneering NGO in the use of ROV. We have been employing this technology for seven years to document habitats and species that require protection and we use this first-hand data to support specific conservation proposals. Deep sea areas have been overlooked by efforts to preserve biodiversity, which is why we have devoted an expedition to documenting some of these areas in the Atlantic and the Alborán Sea”, says Xavier Pastor, Executive Director of Oceana in Europe.
Oceana’s research catamaran, which left Valencia on Tuesday, is now sailing to the South of the Iberian Peninsula. In this first phase, the crew and supplies are onboard and ROV technicians have finished installing the necessary equipment for robot operation.
“Studying the deep sea is a costly and technically complex process, and as such, the information available on it is very scarce. This makes it difficult to protect vulnerable areas or areas of a high environmental value which would otherwise be protected. It is particularly worrying in the case of seamounts, which have a high degree of biodiversity", adds Ricardo Aguilar, Director of Projects and Research of Oceana in Europe. “The aim of the 2012 Oceana Ranger Expedition is to provide essential documentation to move ahead with the conservation of some of the main seamounts in Southern Europe”.