Today marks the launch of Oceana’s 2013 Mediterranean Expedition, which is bound for the Emile Baudot escarpment, a large rocky wall to the south of the Balearic archipelago, of which nothing about its ecosystem is known. A team of scientists, technicians and videographers from Oceana will spend ten days studying the area, which lounges the southern tip of Cabrera National Park. Using an underwater robot, which can reach a depth of one thousand metres, they will capture video and collect samples to obtain the first bionomic description of this geological formation.
The escarpment, which spans almost 300 kilometres of seabed between the south of Formentera and Menorca, rises out of the Algerian-Balearic Basin. One of the deepest areas in the Spanish Mediterranean, it starts at more than 2,000 metres below sea level and reaches the continental shelf at a depth of just over 200 metres. According to the National Parks Act, contours and escarpments with a steep slope should be included in this network of protected areas, a requirement which is currently not being met.
“The United Nations considers escarpments to be formations which are suitable for Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems. Emile Baudot is only a few nautical miles south of Cabrera and could play a key role in enhancing the diversity of the ecosystems found in the National Park”, indicates Xavier Pastor, Executive Director of Oceana in Europe. “We are going to continue using all of our resources to demand the sustainable use of marine habitats and species, because this is required by law and is the only way of restoring the general health of the sea and fish stocks in particular".
Oceana will use the information collected over the course of the expedition to describe the habitats, species and communities present. The marine conservation organisation will thus increase the scientific information available to aid in improving the protection of the deepest parts of the sea and, on this occasion, of the area surrounding Cabrera National Park. For years, Oceana has been working to protect the rich ecosystems left outside the boundaries of the current marine protected area.
“The Emile Baudot Escarpment is a spectacular seamount that is almost 300 kilometres long and over 1,000 metres high in some areas, but it has never been explored using an underwater robot and the only information about it that exists to date, is on its geology”, added Ricardo Aguilar, Research Director at Oceana in Europa. “Deep sea filming has been very limited around the world, and even more so in the Mediterranean, so the area may hold many surprises for us, such as species that have never been seen before in Spain or even some that are new to science.”