Submitted by Reef Check Italia Onlus Coordinator Carlo Cerrano
The year 2010 was declared the International Year of Biodiversity. Thanks to the contribution and commitment of many volunteers, Reef Check Italia Onlus has been one of the protagonists of this initiative, which helped to raise awareness among a growing number of people about the value of the biodiversity that characterizes the marine environment of the Mediterranean Sea. The numerous data collected will contribute to our database which in turn will be helpful in delineating the distribution of species of great ecological interest, and the long term monitoring of the evolution of coastal marine habitats of the Mediterranean Sea.
Here’s a short summary of the main activities performed during 2010:
The Week-End of Coastal Environmental Monitoring (WE-CEM) has been the most important initiative of 2010. Many organizations including MPAs, diving centers, scuba diving associations, local governments and many enthusiastic scuba divers have joined the event which covered the entire Italian coasts of the Mediterranean Sea, from Ventimiglia to Trieste, with initiatives located in different regions including Liguria, Tuscany, Sardinia, Campania, Sicily and Puglia. The event, held in Tavolara Punta Coda Cavallo (Sardinia), has been recorded and broadcast by EuroNews in 9 different languages.
ECODIVER MAC COURSES
EcoDiver MAC Courses were held in the following localities: Ventimiglia, Rimini, Pesaro, Santa Margherita Ligure, Alassio, Andora, Palinuro, Trapani, and Tavolara. Currently there are 81 certified EcoDiver MAC divers and 21 EcoDiver MAC Trainers, while 191 people are holders of a Discovery Certification.
RCI attended two important events, the “Fiera del Libro” during Spring and the “Vele d’Epoca” in Autumn, both held in Imperia (Liguria). An exhibition of 20 posters printed with the assistance of CEA (Center for Environmental Education) of the Municipality of Imperia and produced by the staff of Reef Check Italia Onlus has provided a significant contribution to the knowledge of marine biodiversity of the Mediterranean Sea, focusing also on protected habitats and endangered species.
Topics of the posters focused on biodiversity and Reef Check Italia’s commitment in trying to involve Italian divers in the monitoring and data collection of Mediterranean Coastal Marine habitats. Activities and results were presented at the XXI Congress of the Group for Basic Ecology (G. Gadio) in Olbia 21-23 May, presenting “The role of Marine Protected Areas for the protection of biodiversity” and at the 2nd International Workshop on Research in Shallow Marine and Freshwater Systems in Milazzo, 3-10 October, presenting “An overview of the worldwide involvement of SCUBA diver volunteers in scientific research programs.”
This is an important branch of the CEM protocol. Its aim is the characterization of the sandy and rocky coasts in terms of both organisms and stranded waste. This year the surveys were conducted on the beaches of Marine Protected Areas and along coasts with heavy human impacts. The MPAs involved were Tavolara Punta Coda Cavallo Porto Cesareo. In Liguria the beaches of Paraggi (GE) and Sarzana (SP) were monitored.
PLANS FOR 2011
- Database: the RCI database will be improved to allow anybody to check data directly online. Some results are available at http://www.progettomac.it/caulerpa_racemosa.asp
- WE-CEM: will be held the first weekend of June 2011; many different organizations have already expressed their interest to join the event.
- MAC-DRY: it is planned to increase the number of the beaches and to keep on monitoring beaches already surveyed. These activities will be conducted mainly with secondary schools but the involvement of primary schools remains a priority. Surveys are also underway on the beaches of the Marche Region.
- RCI Tropical: for those who are interested in Tropical RC an innovative proposal is planned. The initiative, aimed at university students, should take place in Indonesia with the assistance of the Marine Science Department of the Polytechnic University of Marche. Grants will be available for some of the participants.
- Publishing activities: RCI is collaborating on the publication of several volumes dedicated to the description of dive sites and guides to support its monitoring activities. On our website we will keep publishing informative articles and new curiosities about the marine environment.
For more information, please see http://www.reefcheckitalia.it/