Boletín de la RSEHN. Sección Geológica

Artículos de investigación | Bol. R. Soc. Hist. Nat. (Sec.Geol.) 111 : 25-51 | 2017
150 años de evolución de la cartografía nacional de la vida submarina y el impulso con el Instituto Español de Oceanografía (1866-2016)
150 years of evolution of national cartography of the undersea life and momentum with the Instituto Español de Oceanografía (1866-2016)
Juan Pérez-Rubín Feigl
Entre los precedentes de los siglos XVIII y XIX destacamos la que consideramos primera cartografía ecológica de los fondos mediterráneos españoles: un Plano submarino del Golfo de Valencia (1866-1868). El Instituto Español de Oceanografía (IEO), desde la publicación en 1916 de la Carta batilitológica sub-marina de la bahía de Palma de Mallorca hasta nuestros días, ha impulsado las investigaciones multidisciplinares en mares y océanos sobre la biología en las profundidades marinas, así cómo su cartografiado en aguas nacionales e internacionales: estudios geológicos y morfológicos, con su fauna y flora asociadas. El inicial enfoque prioritario dirigido a la elaboración de cartas de pesca (1925-1973) evolucionó a partir de los años 80 hacia diferentes proyectos cartográficos relacionados con la ecología marina en los fondos españoles (Zona Económica Exclusiva) e internacionales (Antártida, archipiélago de Svalbard, exteriores a las 200 millas de Canadá, Mar de Irminger, Hatton Bank, los caladeros del Atlántico sudoccidental e Índico, etc.). En las últimas décadas el IEO ha implementado el enfoque geoambiental (con los conceptos de geodiversidad y geohábitats) y los “descriptores del buen estado ambiental actual” (especies, hábitat y ecosistema); y se ha intensificado la elaboración de mapas y textos destinados a la divulgación científica y a la enseñanza.
In the 19th century, the Ministerio de Marina (Spanish Ministry of the Navy) published the first mapping of the Mediterranean seabed: ‘Underwater Plan of the Gulf of Valencia’, with descriptions like: “fish that are reared therein, fishing gear, quality of bottoms, vegetation” (1866-1868). The Instituto Español de Oceanografía (IEO, Spanish Institute of Oceanography), published the “Submarine batilitological chart of the bay of Palma de Mallorca” (1916), promoting multidisciplinary research in seas and oceans, biology in the depths of the sea, as well as cartography: geological and morphological studies with their associated fauna and flora, in national and international waters, until today. The priority approach (between 1925-1973) was directed to the elaboration of the so-called “Cartas de Pesca” (Fishing Charts) for the Spanish fleet operating in the national and African fishing grounds, including the bathymetric maps sea bottom quality data and accompanying texts with complementary biological information explanation of high zoogeographic interest. The work continued during the next five years, when it became the IEO, the first research team in marine geology and geophysics. In the following decade they activated several cartographic projects related to marine biology, such as the study of benthic fauna and flora (of the seabeds) and fisheries, off the coast of Galicia; the delimitation of the surface of occupation of the Mediterranean seagrass Posidonia in the bay of Palma de Mallorca, multidisciplinary studies in the area of Levante, etc. They also participated in 1986 in the first Spanish scientificfishing survey in the Antarctica (Campaña ‘Antártida 8611’), carried out by the IEO with two vessels during 80 days. In 1987 the IEO led an ambitious program called “Prospecting and Evaluation of Fishery Resources in Distant Waters” which, in addition to the ocean beds of that Antarctic area, covers the Svalbard archipelago, 200 miles outside of Canada, the Sea of Irminger, Hatton Bank and the fishing grounds of the Southwest Atlantic (Falkland Islands).

In the 1990s, a detailed geomorphological mapping of the topography of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ, up to 200 nautical miles / 370 km) was carried out in Spanish waters, identifying the types of bottom and sub-bottom sediment layers, with detailed Fishing Charts (such as those of Fuerteventura, Lanzarote and Almeria), and integrating in the bathymetric map its particular sedimentary and textural qualities; which would improve the knowledge, exploitation and management of the respective fishing grounds. In parallel, the incipient geoenvironmental approach and the concept of geodiversity, in relation to the underwater dynamics of the Gulf of Cadiz and the consideration of biogeochemical factors, together with sedimentology, in the management of the marine environment are being developed. In recent years bottoms have also been mapped outside our EEZ to document Spain’s international application to extend this geographical boundary even up to 350 miles.

Since 2005, the IEO has developed a new line of multidisciplinary research to advise on the state of the fishing grounds of the Spanish deep-sea fleet (international waters) in the so-called “Marine Ecosystems vulnerable to fishing gear” of the Atlantic Ocean, applying the ecosystem approach to fisheries management and proceeding with the definition of candidate areas where fishing will be totally banned. Oceanographic surveys were started at the Hatton Bank (NEAFC area) and expanded to SEAFO, outside 200 miles of the Canadian EEZ. In this area, between 700-2000 m isobaths, special attention has been given to cold water corals and sponges (NEREIDA project, NAFO area), with numerous surveys designed to carry out a geomorphological study and a digital mapping of the bottoms (data collected by multibeam bathymetry, very high resolution seismic profiles, box corer and rock dredges). With the participation of a Canadian vessel, direct observation of the seafloor was achieved by cameras and a remote-operated underwater vehicle (ROV), obtaining about 2,000 photographs and more than 100 hours of video. On the other hand, the growing concern about the real situation of Spanish submarine areas spaces considered of high ecological value, has promoted the development of new marine geosciences projects, to deepen the knowledge of the so-called geohabitats and the demersal/benthic communities that such as the LIFE + INDEMARES project in which the IEO has studied seven emblematic areas (Avilés canyon, bank of Galicia, mud chimneys / volcanoes of the Gulf of Cadiz, bank of the Conception, Gran Canaria-Fuerteventura area, Seco of the Olives trees and channel of Menorca) Previously, the ECOMARG project, which was developed in the Cachucho marine mountain (Le Danois bank, Asturias), was able to provide technical and scientific information for the creation of the first Protected Marine Area of the Spanish coast (2011).

In the last few years, has shown the community an intense and continuous scientific and technological activity carried out by the IEO in the various environmental scenarios of the Spanish seabeds through different products destined for scientific dissemination and teaching, such as : the collection of topobatimetrics maps in relief of the national continental margin, the ‘Atlas of the Marine Seagrass of Spain’ (2015) and the voluminous documentation generated with the development of the instrument of planning of the EU: “Framework Directive for the Marine Strategies”, developed in the different Atlantic and Mediterranean demarcations, in the three preceptive levels of species, habitat and ecosystem, to reach in 2020 the Good Environmental State.
Cartografía biológica, Cartografía temática, Cartas de pesca, Fondo marino, Naturaleza submarina, Recursos marinos, España, Aguas internacionales, Siglos XVI-XXI, Oceanografía
Biological cartography, Thematic cartography, Fisheries charts, Seafloor, Undersea nature, Marine resources, Spain, International waters, 16-21 th centuries, Oceanography


Revista publicada por la Real Sociedad Española de Historia Natural, dedicada al fomento y difusión de las Ciencias Naturales en España. 

Las referencias bibliográficas de trabajos aparecidos en este BOLETÍN deben hacerse con la sigla siguiente: Bol. R. Soc. Esp. Hist. Nat. Sec. Geol.