There were 3 things I learnt about the Mediterranean Sea last year;
Firstly its name. If I had thought about it and used my Spanish, it would be obvious that it’s derived from Latin for sea between land. The 2nd is that not all of Southern Spain runs along the Mediterranean Sea. The 3rd last year in Andalusia on holiday, the water is f’ing freezing despite being perhaps the hottest part of Spain.
That’s because, from the Straits of Gibraltar, the Alboran Sea runs along the coast of Andalusia and it’s freezing as the water is coming in from the Atlantic Ocean. It’s not the warmer water Mediterranean Sea I’m used to in North Eastern Spain.
I think there’s a British Seagull on holiday in Barcelona at the moment.
Que? For about 2 weeks occasionally I’ve heard a different sounding seagull. I’m used to hearing and seeing yellow legged gulls who sound like they’re laughing at you. This gull sounds like the UK, or rather beaches in the UK. That’s the first thing I noticed when I visited my parents last year back in the UK, the beach didn’t sound right. The gulls had a different voice. Maybe I’m imagining it, made they got swept here with the storms in March, maybe they’re just exploring for a while.
I’ve also seen more of a type of plover, I think ringed plover (I swear not I’m a bird geek! I just like to know the names of birds like I do animals!) at a spot where I run too. There was 1 and now there’s 4. I’ve never seen them before here so was curious. Same way that I’m not a bird geek, I got a bird ID book as I kept seeing different coloured gulls from the balcony last year. Turns, out they’re teenage gulls 🤦♀️.
Anyway, back in July last year baby fish clouds were still around and I was getting more comfortable being in the water. The visibility wasn’t so good most day. I was getting a little frustrated that I could never focus the camera on what I was shooting and that most of the shoots were grainy. Nat, you’re in the water and the water’s moving! Photography works differently in the water to on land. I still didn’t want to use flash to disturb the fish or to attract larger scarier fish!
On good vis days I had fun watching tiny fish who only kept the the bottom not bothered by the drama higher up in the water column.
Late July new fish started appearing just off the city beaches!
The visibility was still cloudy and I was still figuring out camera settings, hence some photos are grainy. I think the saddled sea breams were getting used to me, often coming up to swim with me. I noticed that when the pompanos arrived, a lot of the baby fish used to swim close by so as not to be eaten by them. I think too it was around this time I started noticing clingfish but as I’m not good at diving down any photos aren’t worth posting.
I think these are mullets. So elusive and fast swimmers! While sea breams swim in clouds, these guys swim in lanes.
All this summer as much as I can I’ve been visiting a magical world. A world I discovered last year on holiday in Mallorca. A world whose outer bubble I see everyday but never give much thought what’s under the surface. A world I’ve only glimpsed at in photos. A world all winter I couldn’t wait to visit as summer came. A world that holds so much allure and mystery humans still haven’t explored perhaps even 1/3 of it.
It started with P wanting me to snorkel. Mallorca is perhaps one of the best places in the Western Mediterranean to snorkel. In the summer the waters are warm, clear and rocky. Rocks perfect for fish, warm and clear perfect for humans to visit without having to suit up. Back in Barcelona I got little sad. I didn’t think I could snorkel or visit under the sea until the following summer. It’s a city beach, there’s not going to be anything hanging around in the water. That changed the day I saw a flash of silver treading water. The next day I took my googles and snorkel. A few days later so P and others would believe me there’s fish along the city beaches his old Go Pro. The Go Pro turned into an Olympus Tough 6 with this year since about late May as often as I can I’ve been in the water visiting the city fish. It might not be the best, clearest waters however it’s world I feel’s secret as few snorkel where I go. That’s changed a bit this year as Decathlon opened up in a local mall with easy access to snorkels more have been visiting, but I think most on the beach think I’m crazy.
I always believe salt water cures almost anything. Having a bad day, it’s too hot, having a good day, that cooling hug it gives as you take dip makes you forget about everything. When I watch the fish just be, everything slips away. The sea and it’s inhabitants don’t know about how your day’s been, how’s your week’s been, they don’t care if you’re happy or sad. They’re just going about eating, trying not to be prey, hunting, just being. In a crazy way I’ve made friends with a few. Okay maybe not friends, but they always say hi if they’re around. Saddled sea breams are known to be friendly but are probably just checking me out. From visiting almost daily for about 3 months I feel kinda protective of them and the rest of the fish I’ve seen travelling this summer. They don’t know about what’s happening outside of where they live. They might be noticing climate change, they might not be. They haven’t got a voice to fight back to say help like land animals can (maybe Orcas are as they’re the oceans bullies. One rogue pod has been attacking boats in the Med and Atlantic. El Pais in English who first reported it. BBC article). I don’t have to tell you their habitats are changing. For most they’ll only do something when there’s nearly no fish to eat.
The below photos are from late May to mid June. I’d had the camera all winter only to test it out 2 minutes before going in. It’s point and shoot right? Nope. There’s a little more to it Nat hence the bad photography and for now they’re jpegs. The sea bottom back in May and June had a lot of seaweed/plants growing. Now in August there’s more peacock’s tail. Yep I got a Mediterranean marine ID book 🤓 And yes I spook myself out when the visibility’s low. When I didn’t know what was just beneath the shoreline when I swam or treaded water I didn’t freak out much. Now I know what’s under there, for every big fish, there’s an even bigger fish…