The ship Oceana Ranger is in the Balearic archipelago waters to undertake, in collaboration with the Program of the Work Environment of Social La Caixa, a study of nearly one month of the different funds seafarers in the region. With a team of researchers, divers, underwater photographers and cameramen, a remote-controlled underwater vehicle (ROV), and systems for documentation, measurement and sampling, the organization of marine conservation and research to identify the different biological communities in their waters.
The aim is to contribute to knowledge of the funds where ecosystems, habitats and endangered species or for further conservation. Although the Spanish government has recently passed some legislation to protect marine habitats (eg seagrass beds, the coralline maërl-and community-calcareous red algae), their effective conservation is very difficult to implement because it is unknown many of the places where they are.
The principal threats to most of these marine communities are the use of destructive fishing gear (such as bottom trawling), the anchoring of pleasure boats on vulnerable ecosystems and the physical destruction and urbanization of the coast, and the turbidity of water discharges, beach nourishment, and so on. This is compounded by the invasion of the seabed by invasive species (other than tropical algae, as algae Caulerpa racemosa or asparagus-Asparagopsis spp.) And the effects of climate change that are already living in the Mediterranean and those Balearic Sea is particularly sensitive.
The Mallorcan marine biologist Xavier Pastor, Director of Oceana Europe, believes this study, if it has the necessary political support, the Balearic Islands will give the opportunity to become a international fisheries management and marine conservation. Ignorance of our seabed often led not to develop conservation policies required. We hope that our work will contribute to the prolonged inactivity of a swift step. It is urgent to react before we lose some marine communities that have taken thousands of years to form, such as seagrass beds or deep-water corals.
During three weeks, the team of researchers will visit Oceana , in collaboration with the Obra Social La Caixa, the seabed of Ibiza, Formentera, Mallorca and Menorca and try to get exclusive images of canyons and seamounts which are among the islands. Some of these sites could host species and marine communities in the area still unknown.
By using an underwater robot (ROV), which allows access to depths where divers can not reach, in August this same year, Oceana found a large community of corals and gorgonian sea in a small mountain located in southern Andalusia and documented the presence of almost one hundred species in the area including fish, molluscs, crustaceans, sponges, sea turtles and cetaceans, among others.