Oceana to Study Balearic and Cabrera Seamounts

This morning, Oceana launched an expedition to document three seamounts that lie between the islands of Mallorca, Ibiza and Formentera, as well as the Fort d’en Moreu which is a coralligenous reef to the East of the Cabrera archipelago, all of which belong to the Balearic Islands.

SOCIB R/V docked in the port. Oceana expedition to the Balearic seamounts onboard the SOCIB R/V. Port of Palma, Balearic islands, Spain. August 2014.

The international marine conservation organization will capture footage using an ROV capable of depths of up to 1000 m, enabling the organization to bionomically map areas of ecological importance that are in real need of conservation. For this purpose, Oceana has chartered the SOCIB R/V, which belongs to the SOCIB, a body belonging to both the national and regional governments.

“This is the tenth year that Oceana has organized an expedition; an effort which through the use of first-hand data from marine scientists, is crucial towards endorsing proposals”, states Xavier Pastor, leader of the expedition and executive director of Oceana Europa. “Because of technological difficulties, knowledge of the deep sea is still scarce, which is why current legislation tends to focus more on shallow coastal areas. From this expedition, our aim is to demonstrate the ecological importance of the Mallorca Channel and the Fort d’en Moreu, and to contribute to information on how they can be managed properly.”

Unloading the ROV from the truck to load onboard the vessel. Oceana expedition to the Balearic seamounts onboard the SOCIB R/V. Port of Palma, Balearic islands, Spain. Agosto 2014.
Unloading the ROV from the truck to load onboard the vessel. Oceana expedition to the Balearic seamounts onboard the SOCIB R/V. Port of Palma, Balearic islands, Spain. Agosto 2014.

The expedition will take place from the 4th to the 13th of August. Although the main goal of the expedition is to film ocean depths to which divers cannot descend, sediment samples will also be collected and opportunistic observations of cetaceans and sea turtles will be made.

The ROV dives will be conducted at depths of between 40 and 800 metres. The shallower dives will take place at the Fort d’en Moreu, an area which Oceana proposes to incorporate into the National Park of Cabrera. This reef boasts calcareous algae known as maërl or magrana, gorgonian gardens and Mediterranean kelp forests, all of which are threatened by trawling.

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Additionally, Oceana’s marine scientists will deepen the available knowledge on seamounts, a feature which Oceana places a high emphasis on due to the high levels of biodiversity that they contain. In the Balearic Promontory, there are five main seamounts, of which three are the most prominent: Emile Baudot (800m), Ausias March (600m) and Ses Olives (300m). Images and footage from all three seamounts will be added to those obtained in previous expeditions and will help to endorse new proposals for protection.

Press Release, August 04, 2014; Image: Oceana

 

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