‘Even if the sea is calm, it does not mean that something is not happening in the depths‘, wrote Norwegian author Jostein Gaarder in one of his works. That is what happens 36 kilometers off the coast of Ribadesella: on its surface, the sea is crystalline, dark blue… but in its depths extends a mountain range of great dimensions and home to more than 500 species that descends to the depths: Mount Cachucho.
In the early 1930s, the French researcher Edouard Le Denois informed the scientific community of the existence of the Cachucho. Its official name is actually a tribute to its discoverer: Le Denois. However, the Asturians baptized the mountain range as Cachuho, a popular name for the red pigeon, a very abundant fish in the area.
The Cachucho has an east-west disposition of 57 kilometers long and 17 kilometers wide. Its depth descends to more than 4,000 meters and rises to 450 meters below sea level, so it does not even show its face to the surface. It is home to more than 500 marine species, some of which are very difficult to find and whose rare presence is usually found only in abyssal or polar waters. Thus, according to the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Northeast Atlantic (OSPAR), ‘the Internal Basin of El Cachucho Bank is one of the areas of the planet where the most accidental captures of giant squid have occurred’.
This creature can reach up to 20 meters in length and 1,000 kilos in weight, has three hearts and a vision a hundred times more powerful than that of a human being, with a highly developed brain. It lives in the deep sea, between 400 and 1,500 meters, and feeds on fish, crustaceans and cephalopods.
In 2011 the Council of Ministers approved a Royal Decree by which the Cachucho became the first Marine Protected Area in Spain. The area was also banned as a fishing area, since the trawling technique destroyed the seabed and carried away all kinds of species. However, other types of fishing, with their corresponding permits, can be carried out.
Back on the surface, the closest town to the seamount is Ribadesella, a council founded by Alfonso X the Wise. Surrounded by blue and green, Ribadesella has a wide promenade parallel to the beach of Santa Marina, flanked by beautiful buildings of the 20th century. In addition, the place is known for hosting the Cave of Tito Bustillo, declared a World Heritage Site. The cave houses at least 12 sets of rock art. Nearby, it is also possible to practice active tourism: surfing, climbing, caving or canoeing. On the first Saturday of August after the 2nd, the famous descent of the Sella is celebrated.