The Aegean Sea is one of most important marine biodiversity hotspots in the Mediterranean, supports an important populations of marine mammals (Common, Bottlenose, Striped and Risso’s dolphins, Sperm whales and Cuvier’s beaked whales), as well as habitats of ecological and economic importance (Posidonia oceanica and coralligenous reefs). Despite current protection afforded by national and international legislation, many of these species are listed as at risk, vulnerable or endangered by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), as they face increasing anthropogenic threats. It is an utmost priority to ensure the enforcement of this legislation to protect keystone species that are crucial to maintaining our marine ecosystems.
1. Marine Mammal Research & Conservation
Description: The goal of the Archipelagos’ Marine Mammal Research Team is to monitor the regional status of marine mammal and sea turtle populations and their habitats in the Aegean, an area where data relating to these species is largely deficient. By gathering data on species populations and their respective threats, the research team works to fill these knowledge-gaps, identifying critical habitats that are especially susceptible to human and environmental impacts.
Our dedicated research vessels include: Aegean Explorer (22m motor boat), Naftilos (15m sailing boat), Pinelopi (16m sailing boat), Okeanos (12m motor boat) and Asterias (7m speedboat). Boat-based surveys, of varying length, are conducted all around the Eastern Aegean Sea (Dodecanese and Cyclades). These vessels allow us to carry out data collection and analysis across a wide range of disciplines, including:
- Cetacean presence, abundance, distribution and behavioural studies (BORIS software) through boat-based surveys.
- Species movement, residency patterns and social structure using mark recapture photo-ID techniques.
- Passive Acoustics Monitoring of cetacean species and anthropogenic noise, using a broadband towed Hydrophone array (320m) and stationary hydrophone. PAMGuard and Raven Pro software are used for data analysis.
- Presence, abundance, distribution and behavioural tendencies of Mediterranean monk seals and sea turtle species (Loggerhead and Green sea turtle).
- Monitoring and assessing coastal and floating marine litter.
- Monitoring and assessing seabird populations at sea.
Further to this, we also explore other areas of research:
- Response and sampling on stranded marine mammals and sea turtles.
- Analysing microplastic content in marine animal digestive system.
- Aegean Marine Life Sanctuary: the creation of an in-sea rehabilitation facility for marine mammals and turtles, but also for dolphins rescued from captivity.
2. Coastal Biodiversity & Invasive Species Research
Description: The Aegean Sea is one of most important marine biodiversity hotspots in the Mediterranean, supporting key protected marine habitats including extensive seagrass meadows and coralligenous assemblages. Poor enforcement of existing national and international legislation results in continued degradation of these critical habitats caused by increasing human impacts. It is an utmost priority to ensure the enforcement of this legislation to protect key habitats that are crucial to maintaining the health of our marine ecosystems. Projects have a wide range of focus, including:
- Conducting biodiversity assessments of fish, invertebrates and algae, following various methodologies such as in situ identification, photography and video-based census
- Monitoring the distribution of invasive species via underwater visual census and stakeholder questionnaire-based surveys
- Creating GIS maps, generated from data collected by kayak and snorkel-based surveys, to assess species distribution& habitat spatial extent
- Design, installation and biodiversity monitoring of experimental artificial reefs
- Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) determining threats to protected species and ecosystems.
3. Seagrass Research & Conservation
Description: The Seagrass meadows of the Aegean Sea are some of the most extensive and pristine meadows in the Mediterranean. They play an important role in the ecosystem and provide important services for humans. They ensure the maintenance of physical, chemical and biological conditions and provide a habitat for many different species, while acting as nurseries and feeding grounds. Poor enforcement of existing national and international legislation protecting these critical habitats results in their continued degradation caused by increasing human impacts. It is an utmost priority to ensure the enforcement of this legislation to protect seagrass meadows that are crucial to maintaining the health of our marine ecosystems. Our Seagrass research projects and conservation involves various aspects, including:
- Mapping of seagrass meadows through boat-based surveys, using an array of scientific equipment including single- and multi-beam sonar aboard the Aegean Explorer, our dedicated 22m – research vessel
- Mapping of seagrass meadows through cost-efficient kayak-based methods using single beam sonar
- Producing GIS maps of seagrass meadow extent, using data collected using kayak- and boat-based methods. The maps produced are used to ensure these habitats are accurately represented, so that planning decisions are properly informed.
- Assessing the Carbon Storage potential of the oceanica meadows using benthic chambers with data loggers for productivity analyses and sampling sediments for organic matter content analysis
- Assessing the impacts caused by mooring, illegal trawling activity, invasive species and aquaculture through sonar, visual data and bioclimatic data loggers.
- Designing and implementing experimental replantation of Posidonia seagrass,using environmentally friendly methods
- Experimental installation of sustainable mooring systems over seagrass meadows
- Evaluation of the health of Posidonia meadows via in situ visual surveys
4. Applied GIS and Remote-Sensing for Environmental Conservation
Description: In order to mitigate increasing anthropogenic threats, critical habitats including seagrass meadows, coralligenous assemblages, insular wetlands, as well askey species distribution must first be mapped, and their threats be quantified.Through dedicated marine surveys with our research vessels, as well as terrestrial surveys and analysis of satellite data, Archipelagos GIS interns collect and analyse various spatial data with the purpose of generating outputssuch as species and habitat mapping and vulnerability modelling. Current GIS projects include:
- Mapping of seagrass meadows through boat-based surveys, using an array of scientific equipment including single- and multi-beam sonar aboard the ‘Aegean Explorer’, our 22m research vessel
- Mapping of seagrass meadows through cost-efficient kayak-based methods using single beam sonar
- Producing GIS maps of seagrass meadow extent, combining data collected using kayak- and boat-based methods. The maps produced are used to ensure these habitats are accurately represented, so that planning decisions are properly informed.
- Mapping of coralligenous assemblages through boat-based surveys using the multibeam sonar and the Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) aboard the ‘Aegean Explorer’, our 22m research vessel
- Creating various species and habitat distribution models with presence/absence and environmental variables (marine and terrestrial)
- Vulnerability assessments of terrestrial as well as marine habitats and species
- Exploring and developing new technologies in the Copernicus program with Sentinel-2 and 3 satellites for terrestrial and marine observation (e.g. detecting marine litter gyres in the ocean, monitoring daily environmental conditions on species presence, detecting land change etc.
These projects provide field-work and hands-on research opportunities for under-graduate and post-graduate students and for other early career researchers looking to gain field-research experience. Participants have the opportunity to collect data for producing a thesis and scientific publications. This internship provides skills and expertise valuable for a professional career in marine mammal research, marine conservation and environmental management.
- At least one year of college or university studies in the fields of marine, ecological, environmental sciences and/or veterinary
- Ability to work both independently and as part of a dynamic, multi-cultural, multidisciplinary team.
- Excellent organizational and time-management skills.
- Capacity for accurate and consistent data collection and analysis.
- Ability to write scientific reports and papers.
- Fluency in English.
- Sincere desire to work towards Archipelagos’ conservation efforts.
- Motivation to live in a small island community in simple facilities and to be adaptable to life onboard Archipelagos’ research vessels.
Duration: Normal placement duration ranges between 3 – 12 months, although shorter or longer placements can be tailored to the needs of groups and individuals.
Location: Archipelagos’ research bases and stations in the Eastern Aegean Sea, on the islands of Samos and Lipsi as well as onboard the research vessels.
Monthly fees of 650 euro cover:
Living expenses (shared accommodation, all meals, Wi-Fi)
Use of equipment & research boats
Transport for working purposes
Greek language lessons
Students and recent graduates are advised to explore possible funding through their universities, by getting in touch with the Finance / International Relations / Placement/ Erasmus+ Offices at their Universities or other relevant grant providing organizations in their region.
*Travelling costs are NOT included and are covered by the participant.
Please submit CV and covering letter to [email protected]