Mediterranea, plankton map between Otranto and Monemvasia

Biodiversity in channel, mircoplastics in Ionian raise concern

02 February, 11:27

    Mediterranea Mediterranea

    (ANSAmed) - ROME, FEBRUARY 2 - The analysis of samples gathered thanks to the Project Mediterranean in cooperation with British researchers from SAHFOS in June 2014 along the Otranto-Monemvasia route has enabled to conduct a census on plankton species in the coastal water on the eastern Ionian and southern Aegean seas.

    ''Progetto Mediterranean has enabled to monitor plankton in an area where it had never been done before'', said Priscilla Licandro from SAHFOS, quoted by a statement issued by the expedition. ''There is recent data on plankton in the Ionian but they are sparse and obtained from sampling further from the coast while we sampled the coastal area, which is more at risk''.

    Overall, 89 species/genres were identified, all typically Mediterranean, that can be traced back to 24 different taxonomic groups. In particular the Channel of Otranto and the northern Ionian are rich in species, ''hot spots'' of plankton biodiversity. Data gathered by the Mediterranean Project also revealed that in the eastern Ionian, as observed in surrounding areas, animal plankton is dominated by diverse species of small shellfish and zooplankton, particularly suited to live in oligotrophic waters like the Ionian sea. These results are reassuring as the species have been identified as typically Mediterranean and no unusual or invasive species that could threaten local plankton were identified.

    Samples taken by the Mediterranean project enabled to see that the Otranto channel, Ionian and Aegean seas represent three separate ''provinces'', each with a characteristic plankton population. ''This is an important piece of information - also said Licandro - a zero level which helps improve the management/conservation of sea environments and is fundamental for future forecasts''.

    The Mediterranean Project has contributed to localize areas of reproduction of fish species ''off the islands of Othoni and Lefkada and the sea of Kallithea, Methoni and off the island of Elafonisos) and polluted areas by the presence of microplastics (in the sea around the island of Zante and off Methoni and the island of Elafonisos), which should be considered to potential reclamation and improvement in the management of the environmental impact.

    Mediterranea recalled in the statement that it is raising funds to support over the next five years the campaign by SAHFOS to study plankton and its distribution in the Mediterranean sea, and information can be obtained by writing to (ANSAmed).

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