The Aegean Sea is one of the most important marine biodiversity hotspots in the Mediterranean, sustaining protected key marine habitats, including extensive seagrass meadows and coralligenous assemblages. Poor enforcement of existing national and international legislation results in the continued degradation of these critical habitats caused by increasing human impacts. It is of the utmost importance to ensure the enforcement of this legislation to protect key habitats that are crucial to maintaining the health of our marine ecosystems.
Research onboard Archipelagos’ 22m research vessel “Aegean Explorer” aims to address multiple knowledge gaps and promote the protection of the Aegean Sea habitats and species through various targeted conservation actions. The Aegean Explorer is a 22m motorboat equipped with an array of important scientific tools, including a multibeam sonar, structure scanner, biomass scanner, ROV, camera system that can reach up to 1500m depth, an onboard lab and many more. With the capacity to host up to 22 crew members, it allows the Archipelagos team to extend the research and conservation work in various parts of the Greek Seas, during targeted research expeditions of short or longer duration.
Following data collection at sea, we normally dock in the port of a nearby island in order to have workgroup meetings on board with members of the local communities and authorities on the local conservation priorities. We also offer onboard environmental education activities to the students and teachers from the islands’ schools, by sharing with them the results of the recently completed surveys.
The research expeditions of the Aegean Explorer combine boat-based surveys to map marine habitats and monitor species in the open sea with surveys taking place in littoral zone ecosystems. By quantifying the extent of anthropogenic impacts we aim to gain an understanding of local conditions, ecosystem changes, processes and threats. We also aim to quantify the causes and consequences of key threats, such as overfishing and plastic pollution, in various levels of marine ecosystems.
This internship will consist of both boat-based work, other fieldwork at sea and office work in the research base in Lipsi island. It aims to provide interns with valuable skill sets in data collection, data analysis, and report writing for a professional career in marine conservation and environmental management.
During these surveys, interns will assist in the data collection for ongoing research projects, including:
- The mapping of seagrass meadows through boat-based surveys, using an array of scientific equipment including single- and multi-beam sonar
- The mapping of seagrass meadows through cost-efficient kayak-based methods using single beam sonar
- The mapping of coralligenous assemblages through boat-based surveys using the multibeam sonar and the Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV)
- 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
- Science communication (photography, video, articles) to generate public awareness on key conservation projects
- Design, installation and biodiversity monitoring of experimental artificial reefs
- Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) determining threats to protected species and ecosystems.
- Designing and implementing experimental replantation of Posidonia seagrass, using environmentally friendly methods
- Analysis of the microplastic content in surface seawater, water column samples and freshwater samples
- Coastal marine litter and floating marine monitoring
These projects provide fieldwork and hands-on research opportunities for undergraduate and postgraduate students and for other early career researchers looking to gain field-research experience. Participants have the opportunity to collect data for writing a thesis and other scientific publications (you can view Archipelagos researchers’ scientific publications that interns contributed to, here). This internship provides skills and expertise valuable for a professional career in marine conservation and environmental management.
Interns have the opportunity to conduct independent research projects, for university credit or for a thesis/dissertation