As the human impact on our seas grows in quality and quantity, we recognize the immense need to intensify the effectiveness of Archipelagos Institute activities for the protection of our seas. Therefore our new research boat, the Aegean Explorer will be a catalyst. It is an old boat with a very good structure that has travelled the seas around the world for over 50 years, only in the last 6 years was it decommissioned and began deteriorating. In the beginning of this year this boat was acquired by Archipelagos Institute for a low price and was then transferred to a shipyard in Samos.
Four months of very hard work were required by numerous technicians, welders, electricians, engineers, carpenters and others, who with great dedication and enthusiasm transformed and upgraded this old boat. Its reconstruction and completion in a short time was a challenging task. Now the “Aegean Explorer” can support Archipelagos’ activities in research and marine conservation, which are scheduled to be carried out throughout the year and cover a large part of the Eastern Mediterranean. The Aegean Explorer will work in parallel to Archipelagos’ boats “Naftilos” and “Pinelopi”.
This endeavour became a reality through self-funding and with the invaluable help of friends and supporters of Archipelagos, people who share with us the same concern for the protection of our seas.
Using state of the art technology, the “Aegean Explorer” has scientific equipment which includes a multibeam sonar for the 3-d imaging of marine ecosystems, biomass scanner for the estimation of fishstock biomass, ROV ( remotely operated underwater vehicle), cartographic camera system that reaches depths up to 300m, autonomous vehicle for habitat mapping (that can map autonomously on predefined routes/transects for > 6 hours), specially equipped kayaks for habitat mapping, waterproof drone, hydrophone for underwater acoustic monitoring, crane for sampling in deep waters, as well as a scuba diving station. During the next weeks it will also be equipped with a permanent water quality and micro-plastics lab. The Aegean Explorer can host up to 25 crew members.
After a short test survey trip, the Aegean Explorer has now started operating and is travelling from the North Aegean to the Small Cyclades islands, with 21 crew members originating from 14 countries. Our first stop is the small island of Donousa, from where we would like to share with you today this important step for the conservation efforts of Archipelagos Institute.