The 'Oceana Ranger', a Ketch catamaran research-vessel, set sail from Port of Sagunto, Spain, on Tuesday, August 11, en route to study the seabeds of the Canary Islands. Oceana's 2009 Expedition plans to conduct research and gather information to propose the creation of new marine protected reserves, and to help Spain protect 10% of its marine environment by 2012, as required by the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.
The 'Oceana Ranger' launches at Port of Sagunto, Spain. Credit Oceana
Oceana, an organization committed to protecting and restoring the world’s oceans, has collaborated with the Biodiversity Foundation for the two-month long expedition. Proffessional divers will photograph and film the seamounts of the Canary Islands, as well as the seabeds of El Hierro, La Palma, La Gomera, Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura and Lanzarote. For areas with a greater depth than 40 meters, an underwater robot (Remotely Operated Vehicle, or ROV) will film down to 500 meters, transmitting images to the boat in real time.
Crew members pack on board the 'Oceana Ranger'. Credit Oceana
Ricardo Aguilar, director of research at Oceana Europe and coordinator of the expedition, explains conservation efforts below.
Most of the Canary Islands seabeds remain unexplored since the continental shelf is small and quickly drops down to 3,000 meters. This makes it complicated to know their state of conservation or identify areas of key importance in terms of marine ecology. The Ranger expedition will sail around the main islands to evaluate the state of the already-protected areas, detect risk factors and identify new areas that deserve protection. The difference from other projects is that images will be taken and information will be compiled about places that, up to now, have never been studied.
When completed with the expedition, Oceana will issue a scientific and technical report based on the areas studied -- including the state of conservation, potential threats or endangerment, recommendations for protection, and the designation of new marine wildlife reserves. The crew aboard the Oceana Ranger keeps an on-board diary, and have already seen torrential rain, thunderstorms and a broken engine in the first leg of the trip.
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