Posidonia oceanica is an endemic seagrass species in the Mediterranean Sea. It has a key ecological role and lot of impacts on its ecosystem. Its roles in fisheries production and in sediment stabilization are well-known. In fact, meadows of seagrass provide habitats for a number of threatened species. However, throughout the Mediterranean they are declining at a worrying rate, due to human activities. Factors such as destructive fishing practices, boat anchorages, bad water quality, and climate change, can destroy seagrass meadow.
Moreover, seagrass meadows in a large part of Greece have not been accurately mapped and hence cannot be adequately protected. This is why it is important to map P.oceanica more efficiently in order to be able to manage the factors of threat. If we can precisely determine the location of the seagrass meadows, we will be able to put some management practices into action (for example, in relation to anchorage by recreation yachts, or the impacts of intensive aquaculture).
The goal of this project is to map P. oceanica all around Lipsi Island in the Northern Dodecanese in Greece. The method consists in using a drone (KARMA drone from GoPro) and taking pictures of the sea-bed from an average height of 200 meters. All the pictures are analyzed in order to find potential seagrass patches.
Using a drone to map seagrass meadows is preferred over using satellite images as the drone has a higher resolution. This would improve the knowledge of P. oceanica meadows cover on Lipsi. The data collected through this will be combined with other mapping methods that are carried out parallel such as sonar and underwater transects. Altogether, this would provide a lot of information concerning the localization of P. oceanica.
MSc in Engineering, ENSAT, France