MERCES is teaming up with the diving industry for the restoration of Mediterranean coralligenous habitats! Two pilot actions have been launched in the past weeks, one for the restoration of gorgonians in the Parc Natural del Montgrí i les Illes Medes i Baix Ter (Cataluna, Spain) and one for the restoration of sponges and gorgonians in the Area Marina Protetta Portofino (Italy). Spanish colleagues from CSIC Catalunya's Institute of Marine Sciences and CEAB - Centre for Advanced Studies of Blanes, from the Universitat de Barcelona and from the Universitat de Girona organised a hands-on citizen science activity joining forces with 16 instructors working at dive centres in L'Estartit.
This was an intense 2-day event starting with a training module and ending up transplanting over 400 red gorgonian Paramuricea clavata explants (in one dive!) over an area that had been affected by mortality events. The event has been endorsed and facilitated by the gencat (Catalan Government). Italian colleagues from the Polytechnic University of Marche and from Studio Associato Gaia transplanted sponges and gorgonians of different species in two sites, and will involve divers in the subsequent monitoring activities.
These actions aim to demonstrate the feasibility of easy-to-implement protocols for the restoration of iconic and economically crucial Mediterranean seascapes, and to engage key stakeholders (such as dive centres, dive professionals and divers) in the process, empowering them to become ambassadors for the sea.
Link to the video.