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Conceptu Maris first multidisciplinary monitoring starts

Multidisciplinary monitoring will start this week, Tuesday 4th October 2022, within the LIFE Conceptu Maris project, coordinated by ISPRA, which provides the joint presence of entities such as the Anton Dohrn Zoological Station, the University of Palermo and the University of Milan Biccoca.

The activities at sea, which plan to cover about 2,000 nautical miles in 7 days, to monitor cetaceans and sea turtles along fixed transepts in the southern Tyrrhenian and in the canals of Sardinia and Sicily, are carried out directly by a passenger ferry of Grimaldi Lines company, which participates in the project, and has been equipped as a research laboratory. In addition to collecting visual data on cetaceans and turtles, species protected at european level by the Habitats Directive, and on their main threats, such as plastics in the sea, data will be jointly collected through environmental DNA (e-Dna), isotopes and parameters physical.

For the occurrence, the ferry was equipped to be able to collect water directly from the sea and to house filtering and storage machinery. The engine room will be the base for the collection of sea water samples, the cabins for filtering and storage and the control deck for sighting animals and plastics in the sea.

During the day, visual synoptic monitoring and e-DNA/isotope monitoring will allow to evaluate the relationships between the sighted animals and the traces found in the water. At night, monitoring of water samples will allow to collect continuous data along the entire route.

The study area was chosen for the lack of information on the investigated species and for the number of different habitat types present; the joint research protocol will then be transferred and tested also in other marine areas such as the Pelagos Sanctuary, the Tuscan Archipelago, the Adrion region, the cetacean migration corridor in Spain.

Ferryboats use, in fact, allows all year round to monitor areas usually not reachable by normal research boats. All happens on already planned routes, therefore without adding further emissions or impacts related to a new route. Frequent updates on activities at sea will be posted on the project social networks.

The LIFE project, which also involves the Universities of Turin and Valencia, CIMA Foundation, CMCC, the Marine Protected Area of Capo Carbonara, EcoOcéan Institut and Triton Research association, and which see the participation of shipping companies such as Grimaldi- Minoan, Corsica-Sardinia ferries, Tirrenia and Balearia, will be presented to the public in a meeting on 13th and 14th October in Rome.

Content edited by ISPRA and Triton Research
Photo: CIMA Research Foundation