Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation, in cooperation with the Research and Technology Centre of the University of Kiel in Germany, launched an innovative monitoring programme of Aegean marine ecosystems.
Following two years of preparatory work, this project begun with the establishment of the first 6 digital oceanographic stations in 3 islands of the northern Dodecanese, with the main base located at the Archipelagos research station on the island of Lipsi, where the main bulk of the data collection and processing will take place.
The project has so far been self-funded by the Archipelagos Institute and the University of Kiel, the latter of which provided the necessary specialized equipment. This is considered an “investment“ by both parts whose ultimate aim is to cover a significant knowledge gap in the real-time monitoring of our seas.
We need to realize that the real dangers for marine ecosystems do not only come from everyday pollution, i.e. urban and domestic waste – which do however still need to be managed effectively – but are also associated with the daily transfer of large quantities of dangerous cargo just off the coasts of the Aegean, namely petroleum derivatives, chemicals, and other toxic substances.
It is alarming that we are completely unprepared for the consequences of an accident, both in terms of immediate detection, as well as in practical terms of responding to such an event.
After an initial data collection test period, these new stations are now fully functional. The data is sent in real time to a specialized centre in the Netherlands where they are immediately processed and sent on to the Archipelagos Institute and the University of Kiel. This allows researchers to make use of and analyze the oceanographic data almost in real time, thus giving us the ability to intervene in the case where a significant change in the chemical composition of the water is detected, be it due to pollution from ships or from terrestrial sources.
The aim of the scientists from Archipelagos and the University of Kiel is to expand this innovative project to other regions of the Aegean and have it permanently staffed as soon as possible. In this way, it will constitute yet another important tool for the protection of the Mediterranean seas, both from ever-increasing anthropogenic threats as well as from the consequences of climate change.