Aquaculture for all

Oceana Launches Research Expedition


The Oceana Ranger research catamaran begins its 2010 Expedition today. In collaboration with Fundacin Biodiversidad, Oceanas boat will sail throughout the Western Mediterranean to study some of the most interesting seamounts and to work on drafting conservation proposals.

In addition, the pH of these waters will be tested for the first time to calculate the acidification of this sea and assess the impact of CO2 emissions on the Mediterranean.

The Oceana Ranger sets sail yesterday from the port of Sagunto (Spain), where it was stored for the winter, to head for the coasts of Almeria, in the south west of the country. During this first stage of the expedition, the team will study the Seco de los Olivos or Banco de Chella, a seamount that harbours a wide variety of species and habitats. In this area in 2007, Oceana already identified groups of cetaceans, gorgonian gardens, rare corals, numerous crustaceans and even the first carnivorous sponge found in Spain.

This time, the area will be studied within the framework of the EU LIFE+ Indemares project focused on identifying marine areas that should be protected by the Natura 2000 Network. Currently, the designation of Marine Protected Areas is the most effective way of permitting a site to recover, because this protects it from destructive fishing practices and constitutes a safe haven for species to feed and reproduce. On the medium and long term, these areas also provide more economic benefits than unprotected areas.

In Seco de los Olivos seamount, Oceana will use a submarine robot or ROV with capacity to film at 1,000 meters depth. The ROV incorporates an umbilical cord that allows marine scientists on board to view the images being recorded in real time. These video images will be added to the images filmed by the divers at 30 or 40 meters depth, and thousands of underwater photographs that will be taken during this stage and future stages of the expedition.

The ROV will also be equipped with a CTD probe (Conductivity-Temperature-Depth) to measure the water’s salinity, temperature, pressure, depth and density. With this information, Oceana will begin to collect data about Mediterranean waters to study how climate change is developing and its impact. Because it absorbs a large part of the CO2 emissions, the ocean helps mitigate the increase of temperature in the earth’s surface; however the ocean becomes more acidic in return. This is harmful for many organisms including corals, crustaceans and molluscs because higher acidity levels makes more difficult for them to create their skeletons and shells.

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