As winter is approaching, Archipelagos’ International School of the Sea continues, despite the often-adverse weather conditions, training actions in applied field research for the protection of the seas.
More than 20,000 young people from 46 countries, postgraduate and undergraduate students and young scientists of various specialties, have been trained in the last 22 years in applied field research for conservation. They remain in the Aegean throughout the year, usually with a multi-month or multi-year presence, according to the requirements of each training activity.
It is the most important but also the most difficult action of the Archipelagos Institute, which brings the Aegean to the international map of applied education in marine research and conservation. It is an action that has been achieved without ever using public funds (national or European). It is implemented in collaboration with leading universities from Europe, USA and Canada which have signed cooperation protocols for this purpose.
The research carried out in the framework of the International School of the Sea has, among many others, resulted in numerous scientific publications in collaboration with distinguished scientists around the world. By combining interdisciplinarity with the permanent presence in the field, continuous monitoring of marine species in both coastal and open waters is possible. It is noteworthy that the actions of the International School of the Sea as well as of the Archipelagos Institute were not interrupted for a single day even during the pandemic (taking, of course, even then all the necessary safety measures and the relevant permits).
Indicatively, training focuses on areas such as oceanographic research and the mapping of protected ecosystems using modern technology (sonar, ROV systems, biomass scanners, etc.), the multi-level underwater monitoring of biodiversity and the effects of climate change, the absorption of the so-called blue carbon, the monitoring of marine mammal populations using audio-visual media and software, as well as laboratory research into microplastic pollution.
As we go through the 22nd winter with a continuous presence in the field of the Greek seas, the International School of the Sea is today made up of a large group of students and young scientists coming from many European countries, the USA, Canada, South America and Africa.
In parallel with the specialized training in modern technologies and research practices, in each site, both the scientists and the trainees, use, record and promote what is becoming widely recognised as the “Local Ecological Knowledge”, that is, the knowledge about the environment that the local island societies convey to us, communities which until a few decades ago were models of resource autonomy and true sustainability.
At the same time, since most of the educational activities take place mainly outside the tourist season, the multi-month presence of the students constitutes an indirect but important financial support to the communities of the islands where the International School of the Sea operates.
At a time when we should all comprehend that the problems we have caused in nature – on land and sea – are expanding at a rapid rate and directly affect our daily lives, correspondingly rapid must be our preparation to address them effectively. It is therefore particularly important to properly prepare, as well as inspire, the new generation of scientists who will be called upon to manage the growing problems that threaten life in our seas. We consider the International School of the Sea to be the largest investment of the Archipelagos Institute for the protection of our seas.
Watch a short video about the field courses of the International School of the Sea https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9ZXfIrdoCE&t=9s