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Blog Posts by: Ricardo Aguilar

It looks better this morning, but swells are expected in Cabo de Palos after easterly winds (Levante) have been blowing these past few days. So we won't risk it and we’ll take advantage of the day by concentrating our work in the area between Cabo Tiñoso and La Azohia. This coastal area is still magnificent thanks to its spectacular topography but, above all, because it has not yet been destroyed by property development like most of the Spanish coast. Actually, it’s strange to see the coastline without one building or crane nearby.

We’ve spent the last few days closely following the "Don Pedro” spill in Ibiza. Although the largest oil spill took place on the first day, the merchant ship was still leaking smaller amounts on the following days. Work is still being carried out to seal the cracks in the wreck, but it is difficult to stop the leaking.

We are still in Ibiza. Early in the morning, we go out to see what the situation is like.

The area where the largest slick was located is now much more dissolved and dispersed, forming only some small fuel patches, and most of it has been removed by the cleaning ships.

The marine rescue vessel is still in the area where the accident took place carrying out operations; trying to find the best method to extract the fuel from the holds of the "Don Pedro". The divers are also here, sealing what appears to be the last crack from which the fuel is leaking.

Yesterday, we continued to study the sea floors around Cabo de La Nao.

We carried out a couple of dives with the divers between Isla de Portixol and Cape San Martin. Again, we spotted gorgonians including the white sea fan (Eunicella singularis) and the yellow sea fan (Leptogorgia sarmentosa), many nudibranchs, cardinalfish (Apogon imberbis) with their eggs in their mouths, eels (Muraena helena), conger eels (Conger conger) and many other fish.

Today we start the day with a dive in the Cabo de San Antonio. Here, the marine reserve guards provide us with information about the area.

It is a rocky wall with one rock descending to approximately 20 meters depth. Like other places in this area, there are few gorgonians, including some dispersed white sea fans (Eunicella singularis) and yellow sea fans (Leptogorgia sarmentosa).

Nudibranchs are abundant and include sea slugs (Discodoris atromaculata), as well as Hypselodoris sp. and Thurridilla hopei.

We’re still in Cabo de la Nao. We’ve done two more dives with the ROV on this sea floor and one dive with the divers in Cabo Negro.

Today it was the Audouin gulls (Larus audounini) that have accompanied us this morning. We continue to study these mostly muddy sea floors with the ROV where we spot crabs, gobies, sole, cuttlefish and a few octopus. The small anthozoan Epizoanthus arenaceus also frequently occurs here.

We have also spotted a few abandoned nets and a strange, unidentifiable object covered in algae, hydrozoans and other marine creatures.

At dawn, we reach the coast facing Gandía and the first thing we see is a group of trawlers fishing in the area. As we head south, more trawlers appear. Some of them are fishing within the forbidden area at less than 50 meters depth, others are just on the border, while a few others are further away in deeper waters.

Flocks of shearwaters and gulls follow them, taking advantage of the discards.

After sleeping in Columbretes where, by the way, we were the only boat anchored, we’ve gone to Placer de la Barra Alta to continue working with the ROV in the northeastern area. The depression we found last year is located there.

The sea floor is similar throughout the entire area. At first, there is maerl at approximately 60-70 meters, although it’s chopped up by the continuous passing of the trawlers. After that, it’s muddy.

Finally, we left Palma de Mallorca at 1:00 in the morning and set sail towards El Placer de la Barra Alta. It was good sailing and at some point, with the jib hoisted, we reached 10 knots.

At some 25 miles east of Columbretes we see a flock of shearwaters feeding on a bank of small pelagic fish that look like sardines or round sardinella. Later on we see another bank were small tuna are feeding. Finally, the striped dolphins appear (Stenella coeruleaolba), playing with the ship’s bow for a while.

We continue our work east of Cabrera. Again, we find some extensions of Laminaria rodriguezii, although less dense. We also find coralline and, at last, the gorgonians. There are not many and, if we are not mistaken, they are Paramuricea macrospina. Also, we find a few black corals that look like Antipathes sp. They are very small and not very dense.

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