The Maritime Procession of the Virgen del Carmen

Mallorca’s coastal towns and harbours will be celebrating the Fiesta de Nuestra Señora del Carmen tomorrow, July 16th, together with a maritime procession in honour of the Mare de Déu (Virgin Mary). Port de Sóller, Port d’Andratx, Cala Figuera (Santanyí), Port d’Alcúdia, Portocristo, Colònia de Sant Jordi, Portocolom are just some of the pueblos where a festive holiday will be celebrated and where businesses will be closed for the day. The Virgen del Carmen is really another Marian devotion of the Virgin Mary, or in this case, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the Virgin Mary’s role as patroness of the Carmelite Order.

The Virgin Carmen is the patron saint of seamen and mariners. In order to honour the Virgin, a nautical procession will be held. Everyone can participate in this procession with his or her own boat. The boat procession will leave the harbour with the Virgen del Carmen prominently displayed and adorned until the open sea, where the Virgin’s flower crown will be thrown into the water. Afterwards, more festive events will take place in the harbour, including the typical Ball Pagés.

Molts d’anys.

The photos were chosen from my archive. They were taken in Colònia de Sant Jordi, Ses Salines, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 16th, 2008. The time was 21:11:18 and 21:06:51, respectively.

The Maritime Procession of the Virgen del Carmen

Langostas and Bogavantes

I like lobsters. They are somewhat dinosaurian in appearance, don’t you think? It pleases me every time I see them on offer in Palma’s Mercat de l’Olivar, for instance. But then I get confused because I don’t know what Langostas are as opposed to Bogavantes. Do I like both crustaceans, or which one is which? Do they both get caught here around the island of Mallorca, or do they come from the Atlantic Ocean?

Bogavantes are known in the English language as the European lobster or Common lobster (Homarus gammarus). The ones sold in Palma’s markets are predominantly caught in the Atlantic waters around Galicia, even though they live along the Moroccan coast as well, and in the Eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea. They are the ones with the big, fat claws. They are commonly sold live with their claws restrained by elastic bands. Occasionally you can buy them live and swimming in a tank without any harness, such as shown here (photo top). Bogavantes are sold these days for between 32 € and 48 €, but they can go up to 70 € at times.

The spiny variety is called Langosta in Spain, known in English as Spiny lobster, rock lobster or Langouste (Panulirus interruptus). Langostas sold here mostly come from Mallorcan waters; they currently retail for between 22 € and 35 €, but they can go up to 60 €, sometimes.

The photos were taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 10th, 2012. The time was 13:33:51 and 13:23:26, respectively.

Langostas and Bogavantes

A Private Seawater Lobster Tank

Something like eighteen years ago, a friend of mine showed me a private property in Portocolom which was for sale. The house was amazing. It looked a bit like the TWA terminal building at JFK airport in New York, just smaller. The setting was more than impressive, right on the water front. Amazing. But what impressed me most was the private lobster tank, cut into the rocks and immersed into the sea water. The idea was that the owner could buy bogavantes or langostas straight from the fishermen and store them in his own private seawater lobster tank until he was ready to eat the crustacean. I had never before been to a private house that afforded its own private seawater lobster tank, nor have I ever since. I think it is ever such a clever idea, extravagant perhaps but nevertheless, smart and intelligent.

The man who had this house built complete with its lobster tank, a well-known Mallorcan tycoon, never spent much time at this place. Instead, the house got sold a number of times over the last 18 years. None of the successive owners ever used the lobster tank, as far as I know. The tank is now in a poor state of disrepair, not least because the metal cover, missing in the photo (above), has been stolen a few times by scrap metal thieves. Now the whole thing is a bit of a safety hazard. Oh well.

The photo was taken in Portocolom, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: June 18th, 2012. The time was 16:40:24.

A Private Seawater Lobster Tank

Commercial Fishing

We had fish for supper last night. It was  quite scrumptious. Which brings me to today’s topic: commercial fishing in Mallorcan waters. It is quite a science. Or so it seems for the average person.

For a start, recreational fishing is governed by the Consell de Mallorca, whilst commercial fishing comes under the guidance of Brussels and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), an agency of the United Nations. Commercial fishermen need a license to catch fish, depending on the fish they want to fetch. Then, there are three zones for commercial fishing in the waters around Mallorca: up to three nautical miles from the coast, between three and twenty-two miles, and beyond twenty-two miles. Depending on the type of fish and on the license, the fishing boats set off to their allocated area, equipped with the suitable fishing equipment, be that lines, nets, trawls, dredges, hooks or pot traps. The fishing equipment or tackle has to be well looked after, repaired, prepared and maintained to safeguard the best catch possible.

The commercial fishing nets have to be repaired on a daily basis (photos top and centre), a routine which might seem repetitive and a bit tedious to us laymen but is quite essential for the livelihood of the crew who rely on the perfect state and function of their working tools.

Large fish such as the Pez Espada (Xiphias gladius, swordfish) are being caught with strong lines and anzuelos (hooks) as per the photo (bottom). They can be found beyond the twenty-two miles radius; they can be up to 4 metres in length and up to 500 kilogrammes in weight. They are quite tasty; it’s not what we had last night, though. We had Lubina (European seabass), a fish that was probably fish farmed near Portocolom.

The photos were taken in Portocolom, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The dates: May 15th and June 22nd, 2012. The time was 15:10:44, 15:11:18, 10:34:30 and 11:08:08, respectively.

Commercial Fishing

The Posidonia Seagrass Crisis

The Posidonia oceanica sea grass, also known as Neptune Grass, is under threat. This marine plant is of an utmost importance to the coastal ecosystem of the Mediterranean Sea and our marine ecosystem. The plant is seen as an indicator of clean waters, and its presence is a sign of a lack of pollution. We are lucky here in Mallorca in as much as we have a widespread presence of this plant in our coastal waters. Sadly, there are now reports that this important guardian of the ecological balance and harmony of the Mallorcan marine life is in decline. The decline is attributed to mechanical damage from trawling and boats, both fishing and leisure, from excessive coastal development and eutrophication, which causes lack of oxygen and leads to the demise of marine life, including plants and seafood, shrimp, crabs and small fish.

I wish our politicians would not spend all their time and effort and the taxpayers’ money saving our banking system but would spend some time and money on the environment that is actually there to protect us and our future generations.

Why are we all so blind?

In case I get some wisecrack comments on the state of the beach shown in the photo (bottom), let me tell you that we should be pleased to find some of our beaches full with remnants of dead sea grass. This natural debris is a sign that the Posidonia sea grass is still in existence, working away in its wondrous ways of making our sea water clean and with it, our air. The day the debris does not wash up on our beaches any longer, will be a sure sign that the Posidonia has become extinct. And extinct is forever. Let’s not forget that.

The photo (top) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of deepbluehome.blogspot.com.es.

Thank you very much.

The photo (bottom) was taken near Can Picafort, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: March 30th, 2012. The time was 11:41:56.

The Posidonia Seagrass Crisis

Biodiversity and Conservation

The Institut Mediterrani d’Estudis Avançats (IMEDEA, Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Studies) is a research centre, jointly run by the Consell Superior d’Investigacions Científiques (CSIC) and the Universitat de les Illes Balears (UIB). The objective of IMEDEA is to develop high-quality scientific and technical research in the area of Natural Resources, with special emphasis on interdisciplinary research in the Mediterranean area.

One of the many projects of IMEDEA is the Estació d’Investigació Costanera, a Coastal Investigation Centre, based at the Cap Salines lighthouse, near Ses Salines (see photo). The Investigation Centre busies itself with observation and research of the marine environment, especially that of the Reserva Marina del Migjorn de Mallorca, a marine protection area covering the southern part of Mallorca’s coast and stretching from Cap Blanc in the West to Cala Figuera in the East. There are three other Reservas Marinas in Mallorca, the Reserva Marina de la Bahía de Palma, the Reserva Marina del Levante de Mallorca, and the Reserva Marina de las Islas Malgrats. They all come under the supervision of the Coastal Investigation Centre and are all overseen by the Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Studies, together with the Conselleria d’Agricultura, Medi Ambient i Territori of the Govern de les Illes Balears.

For further information you can get inspired by concerns such as Biodiversity and Conservation, Ecology and Marine Resources, Global Change Research, and Marine Technologies, Operational Oceanography and Sustainability, courtesy of the IMEDEA website, if you so wish.

The photo was taken near Ses Salines, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: May 9th, 2012. The time was 16:28:01.

Biodiversity and Conservation

Dead Dolphins

First the good news. There is a surprising prevalence of dolphins in the waters surrounding the Balearic Isles. Species found around Mallorca include the Common Dolphin (Delphinus delphis), Risso’s Dolphin (Grampus griseus), the Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops Truncatus) and the White-Sided Dolphin (Lagenorhynchus acutus). Dolphins are often found swimming alongside fishing boats and can sometimes even be seen in coastal coves, here. Of course, you can also see dolphins at Marineland in Costa d’en Blanes and at the Palma Aquarium. Not quite the same, though, but a much safer bet if you want to be sure of a close encounter with the intelligent and friendly marine mammals.

Now the bad news. For some reasons, every now and then a dead dolphin is found on the shores of Mallorca. Yesterday, there was a beached dolphin at the Platja d’es Trenc near Colònia de Sant Jordi (shown here). I could not find any information as to why the dolphins die or beach-up. Some smaller ones may get tangled in one of those enormous fishing nets or else, they may receive injuries from boats or jet-skies. The good people at Marineland seem to have the ultimate expertise on dolphins in Mallorcan waters, if you should want to find out more on the subject.

Just to make up for the sad image (photo centre), here is a short video clip from YouTube, showing a small school of dolphins off the coast of Cabo Blanco. Enjoy.

The photo (top) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of flickr.com and miquelsalas. The photo (centre) was borrowed by my friend Lazlo Aust. It was taken near Colònia de Sant Jordi, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: April 29th, 2012. The time was 16:35:15. The video was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of YouTube and xatino.

Thank you very much, vielen Dank, and

muchas gracias.

Dead Dolphins