Eco-Navigation – A citizen science platform engaging sea enthusiasts in responsible marine life observation

The Aegean Sea hosts some of the most important remaining marine mammal and sea turtle populations in the Mediterranean. The islands thanks to their unique biodiversity and pristine waters, attract large numbers of sea enthusiasts all year long, in particular during the summer season. Bad encounters between boats and mammals are common and can have disastrous consequences for animals. These species depending, on the season and their needs (feeding, migration, breeding, etc.), can live in both offshore and onshore areas.  They live offshore and are close to shore for vital reasons. In these areas, marine mammals are very vulnerable to stresses caused by many disturbance sources. The most common negative impact remains an incorrect approach by a boats which can lead to separation between a calf and its mother for example, or physical injury to the animal in the event of a collision. In the Mediterranean Sea the percentage of cetaceans stranded, that show signs of ship collision, is a really shocking data. Moreover, the masses of marine traffic have a negative effect on marine life due to increasing underwater noise. Thus forcing the cetaceans to evacuate the area, disrupting their life cycle.

However, the observation of cetaceans in their natural environment remains the largest source of information that researchers use to understand and analyse these extraordinary animals. That’s why the Archipelagos Marine Mammal Team is developing a protocol in order to show the best approach to the sea enthusiasts, sailors and tourists. The rules to be respected in case of approach of animals will be illustrated with simple graphic techniques in order to generate fewer negative boat/animal interactions.

This protocol will be translated into many different languages and accompanied by an observation sheet to enable observers to provide data to our database on the location and behaviour of marine mammals in the Aegean Sea and other parts of the Mediterranean. Archipelagos Institute has developed the Eco-Navigation project to create a citizen science database starting with sailors, sea enthusiasts and tourists’ reports.

The data that is important to gather for us during an observation includes:

  • GPS coordinate
  • Species
  • Number of individuals
  • Data about behaviour
  • Pictures for photo-identification

This data can be sent to us via the observation form or by mail:

We count on the support of all the sea enthousiasts who want to contribute to our database for the conservation of marine species of the Aegean Sea.


Quentin Gouget

                                                                                                                                                Bsc Water treatment                                                                                                                                                           AFTEC Formation, Orleans,