Facilities & Technology

Research Vessels

Research Bases

Equipment

Research Vessels

The “Aegean Explorer” is Archipelagos’ main research vessel, leading our at-sea conservation action. It was reconstructed and repurposed by Archipelagos in 2019 and since then has played an active role in the mission to address multiple knowledge gaps and promote the protection of key habitats and species.

 

The Aegean Explorer is equipped with an array of important scientific tools including a multibeam sonar, biomass scanner, structure scanner, multiple ROV systems, underwater robotic camera system, drones, onboard lab, multiprobe sensors and autonomous surface vehicle for sonar-based monitoring. Its crane system has lifting capacity up to 1 tonne and can deploy gear up to 1000m. The on-board wet-lab and water quality lab can be used for biological or water quality analyses in chemical microbiological & microplastic pollution. 

 

This vessel offers the possibility for research groups to carry out multi-day surveys at sea, therefore enabling the Archipelagos team to extend research and conservation work to various parts of the Greek seas.

Vessel Name: The Aegean Explorer
Type: Motor Boat

Length: 21.74 m
Width: 5.68 m
Engines: 2* Caterpillar 450HP
Generators: 1*22 kVA & 1*6 kVA
Draft: 2.68 m
Weight: 60 tonnes
Water capacity: 2.5 tonnes
Fuel capacity: 4 tonnes

Accommodation- Total crew capacity: 25; Facilities: GIS lab, wet lab/ water quality lab, office area, cabins sleeping 19, kitchen, 4 WC
Other- Desalination unit, Bow thrust, Stabilizer, Hydraulic anchor winch, 2 Radar Units 36 knots

Pinelopi” is one of Archipelagos 2 sailing boats dedicated to marine mammal research and marine conservation work. In operation since 2000, she is one Archipelagos’ first boats and continues to be a fundamental part of the team’s research work. She is a traditional two-masted sailing vessel (schooner) made of steel, constructed as a replica of a renowned sailing boat that dates from 1811. She is a unique vessel that got a new lease on life when Archipelagos retrofitted it after it was sold for scrap in the late 1990’s. This vessel supports field actions for the protection of the Greek seas, even under the most challenging weather conditions.

Pinelopi is equipped with a towed Hydrophone Array System (340m cable, 4 channels – including capabilities of low frequency & high frequency hydrophones, pressure sensor, waterproof signal processing box, measurement computing and NUC minicomputer), Aquarian AS-1 hydrophone (20m cable), real-time acoustic monitoring system and a marine mammal observation platform.

Vessel Name: Pinelopi

Type: Traditional, steel dual-mast sailing boat
Builder: Perama, Athens 1979
Length overall: 16 m
Width: 5 m
Engines: Ford Fumoko 140 hp
Crew capacity: 14

“Naftilos” is one of Archipelagos’ 2 sailing boats dedicated to marine mammal research. It was refurbished for this purpose by Archipelagos in 2017 and since has been carrying out survey work in various regions of the Greek Seas and the Mediterranean. One of its most challenging trips covered the seas between Crete, Libya and Malta, in the framework of the ACCOBAMS Survey Initiative: the first large-scale parallel census of cetacean populations throughout the Mediterranean Sea.

It is equipped with a towed Hydrophone Array System (340m cable, 4 channels – including capabilities of low frequency & high frequency hydrophones, pressure sensor, waterproof signal processing box, measurement computing and NUC minicomputer), Aquarian AS-1 hydrophone (20m cable), real-time acoustic monitoring system and a marine mammal observation platform.

“Naftilos” is not an ordinary sailing boat. It was built in Belgium 40 years ago as a “one-off” construction with special features that allow it to travel with low cost, over long and difficult trips in the world’s seas and oceans. It has three times the hull thickness than conventional sail boats, it has reinforced sails, the hull is divided into 26 separate compartments, while also has large fuel and water storage capacity, enabling great autonomy and the ability to travel continuously for weeks, without requiring refueling stops.

Vessel Name: Naftilos
Type: Ketch Sailing Boat

Length: 15.25 m
Width: 3.80 m
Draft: 2.10 m
Weight: 26 tonnes
Engine: 90 hp Toyota    
Water capacity: 1 ton
Fuel capacity:  1 ton
Crew capacity (24hr surveys) : 8
Crew capacity daily surveys : 12

Okeanos, is a 12m Bertram motorboat. It supports several Archipelagos projects, including the mapping of seagrass meadows and coralligene reefs, as well as the assessment of fish biomass, through the use of a multibeam sonar, a biomass scanner, a structure scanner and an ROV. It is also used for monitoring IUU fisheries practices. The boat is fully equipped with all navigation, safety and communication requirements (including 1 generator Onan 6.5 kWA, radar, GPS, plotter, autopilot).

Manufacturer: Bertram

Type: Motorboat

Overall Length: 12m

Engine: 2* Iveco 335 hp

Crew Capacity: 12 

The speedboat, Asterias, is used to support various surveys of Archipelagos’ research teams. It can quickly access sampling sites on islands and islets, as well as transport team members participating in different conservation actions.

Vessel Name: Asterias

Type: Speedboat

Length overall: 7.20 m

Engines: 150 hp

Research Bases

The new main research base of Archipelagos Institute started operating in April 2023 and is located on the North coast of Samos, in the village of Agios Konstantinos. The base will be continually developed for the next year, with the aim that it becomes a green model facility.

The building, with a total of 1000 square meters, houses both the working and the living areas. There are indoor and outdoor office areas, a presentation room as well as the accommodation facility which comprises 18 rooms and an outdoor eating area.

With a clear strategy to gradually reduce efficiently the carbon and plastic footprint of the base, we have already achieved our first goal to be largely self-sufficient producing most of the vegetables and fruits the team consumes in the organic garden situated next to the base. All team members are encouraged to help in our organic garden.

Archipelagos’ base in Agios Konstantinos is within the small village, only a few hundreds of meters from the sea, while it is at a walking distance from cafes, restaurants, a small shop and a pharmacy and amazing hiking paths!

The new base is surrounded by a very rich terrestrial biodiversity that Archipelagos teams are surveying in order to better understand this understudied environment and its ecosystems that reach 1100m of altitude. This base offers direct access to the trench of Ikaria – Samos island that reaches 1400m depth, enabling research in these important marine habitats, cetacean populations and other important biodiversity of the deep waters.

Samos is a Greek island in the eastern part of the Aegean Sea. It is facing the Turkish coastline, and their closest point is only 1.6 km away. It is a historical island, with ancient heritage and important archeological sites. In antiquity, it was home to prominent figures such as the mathematician Pythagoras, the storyteller Aesop, the philosopher Epicurus and the astronomer Aristarchus. Today Samos is characterized by its rare natural wealth, both at land and sea. It is the only island of the Mediterranean that supports populations of golden jackals and the only place in Greece where Mediterranean chameleons still survive. The marine ecosystems around Samos are equally important, as they contain Posidonia seagrass meadows, coralligenous reefs and considerable populations of rare, endangered marine mammals and turtles.

A pioneering sanctuary where expert care and rehabilitation will be provided to sick and injured marine animals in and around the Greek islands and where formerly captive dolphins can thrive in a natural environment.

The Aegean Marine Life Sanctuary (AMLS) is a venture founded by Archipelagos Institute to create the necessary infrastructure for the rehabilitation of dolphins, seals and turtles that are suffering from strandings and entanglements. For the first time in Europe, it will also provide a truly sustainable solution for the relocation of formerly captive dolphins into a biodiverse natural environment. The AMLS will offer expert care and compassion to dolphins, in what is going to be their long-term retirement facility. The physical and mental needs of the animals drive our mission and will help to set future standards in animal welfare at marine sanctuaries.

Moreover, the Sanctuary will offer international scientists, researchers and students the possibility to conduct non-invasive research and to improve our understanding of bottlenose dolphins. 

The AMLS is located in a remote bay of Lipsi Island, where anthropogenic impacts that could disturb the animals in rehabilitation are minimal. Lipsi has a long tradition of eco-friendly practices embedded in its culture and Archipelagos works closely with the local community, strengthening the impact of our conservation actions. 

The AMLS houses a veterinary lab, a microplastics research/marine biology laboratory, offices and presentation spaces, along with dormitory style accommodation in a model green building. It is a self-sustaining facility and is fully supported by renewable water and energy supply. Indeed, solar panels, rain water and low-energy consumption desalination installations allow the AMLS to operate independently, with a zero carbon footprint. 

The AMLS has been operational as a research station since 2019. Construction is ongoing and progress is steadily increasing as more funds are secured for the development of the rehabilitation and in-sea facilities.

Read more about the AMLS here
View a video about the AMLS here

Equipment

The Archipelagos team is committed to better understanding the abundance and distribution of protected Aegean habitats through the use of mapping techniques. This is carried out with the aim to support conservation efforts and aid protective management of these ecosystems. A range of  instruments are applied in order to achieve these goals.

Simrad EK80 High-precision echosounder

On board of the Aegean Explorer, we use this echosounder supplemented by the software Echoview to quantify and monitor the marine ecosystems. We rely on this technology primarily for mapping mesobenthic habitats and analyzing fish stocks.

Remotely Operated Vehichles (ROVs)

Our ROVs are equipped with high-definition cameras and optional other scientific instruments (e.g. laser scaler, grapper, USBL system) to capture detailed images or videos of underwater ecosystems up to 1000m, aiding in the assessment and monitoring of biodiversity in these environments.

Kayaks equipped with downscan sonars
Through the use of in-house developed algorithms to analyze the raw data collected by the downscan sonars mounted on kayaks, we are able to accurately map and monitor the distribution of seagrass beds in our coastal ecosystems.

Echosounders (multibeam, single beam)

On our research vessels, we deploy a range of echosounders for accurately collecting bathymteric data, and we are able to understand the structure of the seafloor.

Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP)

By utilizing an ADCP, we are able to accurately measure the speed and direction of currents in the coastal regions surrounding our experiment site.

Drones

With different drones we are able to collect high-resolution data for our remote sensing teams to study the distribution of coastal and terrestrial ecosystems and analyse the impact of humans.

The Archipelagos team is committed to providing research and knowledge necessary for the conservation of marine biodiversity in the Aegean Sea. This effort is carried out with the aim to bridge knowledge gaps and aid protective management of important ecosystems. A range of instruments are applied in order to achieve these goals.

Benthic Chambers

Underwater domes enable data collection serving research work examining the sequestration of blue carbon in Posidonia seagrass meadows. Domes are equipped with PME minidot data loggers used for quantifying oxygen production.

Environmental Condition Monitoring (temperature, light intensity, salinity, pH, transparency)

Applicable tools allow for environmental condition monitoring of survey sites. These instruments provide statistical contributions of biophysical data in numerous marine ecology studies.

Manta and Plankton nets

  • Benthic chambers (PVC domes) + PME minidot data loggers (HOBO) for measuring oxygen production – however, I know that the loggers were not working and I don’t know whether they’ve been fixed or not
  • Underwater temperature and light intensity loggers
  • Temperature, salinity and pH meters & secchi disks
  • Manta net (133μm)
  • Plankton nets (200 μm)

The Archipelagos team is committed to contributing to research devoted to the protection of marine mammals in the Aegean Sea. The data collected is focused on providing a better understanding of the species populations and the respective threats they face. A range of equipment is utilised in order to achieve these goals.

Hydrophones

These underwater acoustic monitoring devices enable acoustic data collection in the Aegean Sea. A towed hydrophone array system, composed of four multi-frequency hydrophones, is used in combination with PAMGuard software to record and analyse underwater sounds, including marine mammal vocalisations. Deployed from one of Archipelagos’ research vessels, the towed hydrophone array system collects continuous data which can be used to gain estimates for cetacean abundance and distribution alongside bioacoustic studies. 

Aquarian AS-1 hydrophones are used to collect complementary data in shallower environments, and can be deployed from kayaks or in novel environments, such as fish farms. 

Camera and Video recorders

High quality cameras and video recording equipment enable data collection for behavioral and photo ID analysis. Used on boat-based surveys, digital-lens reflex cameras are essential for capturing focused images of dolphin dorsal fins and whale tail flukes, while video recordings of behaviours allow for deferred detailed analysis with Behavioural Observation Research Interactive Software (BORIS).

  • Towed Hydrophone Array System (340m cable – 4 channel) + PAMGuard software;
  • Aquarian AS-1 hydrophone;
  • Tascam recorder;
  • Digital-lense reflex cameras
  • Digital Videocamera HDR-CX240E
  • Increment borer;
  • Silva Clinomaster clinometers;
  • Digital probes for Ph, dissolved oxygen, temperature, conductivity;
  • Geopacks flowmeter;
  • Surber sampling net – 1 mm mesh;
  • Laboratory mortar, sieves;
  • vacuum pumps;
  • KDI micro-viewer, model -501;
  • monocular microscope x1000;
  • monocular microscope x400;
  • dissecting microscopes – (Essex University donation);
  • HACH SC1500  State-of-the-art modular Cloud-based Multi-parameter Universal Controller;
  • HACH 3798sc Immersion Digital Inductive Conductivity with integrated AD electronics;
  • HACH pHD sc General Purpose Online Process differential pH Sensor;
  • HACH LDO sc Dissolved oxygen Optical sensor seawater version;
  • HACH HQ40d Multi portable meter with 30m heavy duty sensors for pH,temperature, conductivity, TDS, Salinity, D.Oxygen;
  • HACH DR 3900 High-performance VIS spectrophotometer with RFID technology;
  • HACH LT200 Thermostat for sample digestion;
  • Hanna C99 multiparameter bench photometer;
  • LaMotte smart spectrophotometer;
  • digital arsenator (Wagtech);
  • Kits for microbiological analysis (total coliform, E-Coli, IDEXX Water Microbiology);
  • Thermolyne incubator type I42300;
  • automatic heater for water bath, model CB 8300 (RESUN);
  • UV lamp ZF- 7A Spectroline model CM-10;
  • analogue spectrophotometers S104 WPA;
  • light meter, EXTECH instruments 401025;
  • pinpoint salinity monitor;
  • Milwaukee MW600 dissolved oxygen meter;
  • Martini Instruments portable pH/temperature meter;
  • Membrane pH meter, HANNA HI 8314.
  • Perkin Elmer atomic absorption spectrophotometer;
  • autoclave;
  • soil test kit, LaMotte AST-15

sampling at deep sea – up to 2000m water & sediment

Though Archipelagos focuses its efforts on marine conservation, our research extends to the protection of terrestrial biodiversity on the islands of the Aegean Sea. These efforts are carried out with the aim of conserving island ecosystems and some of their key species. The following equipment is used for our terrestrial surveys:

  • Acoustic recorders are used to collect data on the vocalisations of different species, including golden jackals, owls, and songbirds. We deploy AudioMoths acoustic devices featuring smart detection.
  • Camera traps are placed strategically to capture footage of terrestrial wildlife, including golden jackals, martens, weasels, wild boar, and others.
  • Water quality probes allow for biochemical analysis of freshwater habitats on the islands.
  • Light traps are implemented for the assessment of moth biodiversity.