Since the opening of the Suez Canal between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea there has been a steady flow of invasive species entering the Aegean Sea out of which there are over 32 established fish species. At Archipelagos Institute we are monitoring the spread of these species in the region of the NE Aegean and the Northern Dodecanese, with the aim to assess how they are impacting the local ecosystems. Research and data collection in this field is carried out with the combination of snorkeling based surveys assessing the abundance of certain target species (e.g. Siganus sp) in littoral zone ecosystems.
This is coupling previous year’s research assessing the amount of invasive species found in fisheries landings. (links here to Abundance of Invasive Alien Species (IAS) Caught by Small-scale Fisheries of Lipsi Island, Greece and Siganus species in an artisanal fishery in the Eastern Aegean)
Citizen Science Projects
A. Questionnaire Based Surveys are carried out targeting local fishermen and divers on which species they had seen or caught. To do this we designed a questionnaire but also created a booklet on the invasive species of the area. Based on the first set of results, we summarized that Siganus luridus, Siganus rivulata, Sargocentron rubrum, Lagocephalus sceleratus and Stephanolepis diaspros were the most common invasive fish species found in the area.
B. Awareness Raising – Engaging the Public in the Data Recording Process. For this purpose we have created informative posters in Greek and English, as well as a booklet and a leaflet informing key target groups about invasive species. In this way we want to encourage all those who spend time at sea (fishermen, divers, snorkelers, sailors) to record any observations of invasive species and share them with the scientific community to help us monitor the health of our ecosystems. This endeavor is carried out in cooperation with the ELNAIS, the Ellenic Network on Aquatic Invasive Species of the Hellenic Center of Marine research.
Lauren Chapman, BSc Marine Vertebrate Zoology, Bangor University