Researchers find underwater forest of critically endangered bamboo coral in the Balearic Islands

Source: Oceana

Researchers from Oceana, the Spanish Institute of Oceanography and the University of Bari describe for the first time the biodiversity of this habitat, in decline from bottom trawling.

Scientists from Oceana, the Spanish Institute of Oceanography, and the University of Bari (Italy) have described and listed the biodiversity associated to a bamboo coral (Isidella elongata) forest for the first time. The colony was found in the Mallorca Channel at a depth of over 400 meters and contains an impressive density of colonies of this species of gorgonian, which is critically endangered with extinction in the Mediterranean.

“Bamboo coral populations have declined by more than 80% in the Mediterranean and are severely threatened,” explained Ricardo Aguilar, Research and Expeditions director for Oceana in Europe and co-author of the article. “The forest that we have found in the Balearic Islands is, by its extension and density, one of the largest groups of bamboo coral in the Mediterranean and dozens of species depend on it. It reaches densities of more than 2,500 colonies per hectare, while nearby areas impacted by bottom trawling only reach 30-60”.

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The Mediterranean Basin: together for nature

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After five years of conservation in the Mediterranean, CEPF’s latest publication “Together”shows how the region’s diverse cultures are committed to protecting its nature. Discover incredible species, motivating stories, complex threats, conservation successes and innovative ideas, as we share local solutions for nature conservation.

Imagine bee-eaters, cave salamanders, geckos, macaques, dragonflies, and pelicans for a flavour of the faunal diversity the Mediterranean Basin harbours – many found only in the region. Covering more than two million square kilometres, this biodiversity hotspot is also ranked as the third-richest in the world in terms of its plant diversity. Yet rapid economic development, an increasing human population, and 32% of the world’s international tourists are creating unprecedented pressures on its freshwater, marine and terrestrial habitats – compounded by lack of effective planning and management systems.

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Sea turtle rescue centres- First ever Mediterranean map launched

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A new online map of sea turtle rescue centres in the Mediterranean has been created by MEDASSET.  The new tool was launched at the 41st Congress of the CIESM (Mediterranean Science Commission) in Kiel, Germany (12-16 September 2016).

The “Database & Online Map of Sea Turtle Rescue & First Aid Centres in the Mediterranean” is a new project by the Mediterranean Association to Save the Sea Turtles (MEDASSET) which was prompted by a paper by Ullmann and Stachowitsch (2015) that called for ‘better information on the number and types of rescue facilities on a Mediterranean scale’.

The sea turtle rescue centres are presented to the public via a new interactive Google Map that is managed by MEDASSET.  The primary aim is to provide open access to accurate and current information on all facilities that rescue and care for sea turtles in the Mediterranean. At the same time, the new tool helps increase awareness about the existence of the network of facilities.

“Up-to-date information has been provided by each facility, making this a most reliable source” remarked Liza Boura, Project Manager.  The information includes the facility location, type, contact details and volunteer opportunities.  The map will be periodically updated, maintained and improved after launch.

Facilities that do not currently appear on the map but wish to be included are invited to contact MEDASSET.  Relevant organisations can freely use this new tool by embedding the Google Map on their websites.

Oceana expedition in Malta concludes after 140 days at sea

Oceana, the project partner tasked with carrying out marine surveys, has concluded its at-sea research in Malta to explore deep-sea areas, underwater caves and sandbanks within the LIFE BaĦAR for N2K project.

The project, co-financed by the EU, and comprising the Environment and Resources Authority (project leaders), the Maltese Ministry for Sustainable Development, the Environment and Climate Change, the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, and the Department of Biology of the University of Malta, apart from Oceana, is the most comprehensive video survey of unknown marine areas ever undertaken in Malta and aims to achieve effective protection for three different habitats  of high ecological value. Its preliminary findings include the identification of hundreds of species, large reefs of cold water corals and caves discovered 300 m below the surface.

“The findings from Malta are impressive and include species that hadn’t previously been recorded in the Mediterranean. The footage and samples compiled will require years of analysis to be fully valued but in the shorter term they will serve as the basis to create marine protected areas that help preserve this natural heritage and restore its abundance. We hope that other countries undertake similar actions to improve their understanding and protection of their marine environments,” said Ricardo Aguilar, expedition leader and research director at Oceana in Europe.

The total surveyed area amounts to 2,974.72 km2, of which 2,923.80 km2 are offshore. In comparison, the total land surface of the Maltese archipelago is just 316 km2, which shows the extent and importance of this project. The project was divided in two expeditions (2015 and 2016), and utilised an ROV (underwater robot) able to reach depths of over 1000 m, and divers using underwater scooters to enhance speed. A total of 206 ROV transects (up to 1039 m deep) and 42 scuba dives were carried out.

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GUIA DE ESPECIES PROTEGIDAS EN LAS ISLAS BALEARES

La Consellería de Medio Ambiente, Agricultura y Pesca del Gobierno Balear ha publicado recientemente una guía para reconocer las especies de peces protegidas y reducir las interacciones con la pesca profesional en las Islas Baleares donde, a través de 17 fichas, se describen las especies, la norma que las protege, su biología y las modalidades de pesca que presentan riesgo de captura. Esta publicación responde a la necesidad de dar a conocer a los pescadores profesionales las principales especies protegidas y cuya captura está sancionada según la normativa vigente, para evitar en lo posible su captura y retención a bordo y las importantes multas que ello acarrearía.

La guía, editada en línea, también ha sido distribuida entre todas las Cofradías de Pescadores de Baleares, Servicios de vigilancia de reservas marinas, y otras entidades relacionadas con el medio marino y ya está dando resultados, puesto que se han recibido avisos de capturas accidentales georreferenciadas de alguna de las especies contenidas en el libro.

Actualmente ya va por la 3 edición, con mas de 600 ejemplares además de los que se hayan podido descargar directamente de la página web de la Dirección General de Pesca y Medio Marino que se ha comprometido a mantenerla actualizada con la información que reciba, todo ello con el objetivo de mejorar el conocimiento del sector pesquero sobre estas especies singulares y favorecer en lo posible su recuperación.

La guía se puede descargar, tanto en catalán como castellano, pinchando en la imagen:

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MEDASSET’s new report reveals that the illegal sea turtle trade in Alexandria continues

Source: MEDASSET

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MEDASSET just published a new Report that presents the full findings of our 2014-2015 survey on the illegal trade in sea turtles in the fish markets of Alexandria in Egypt.

Between September 2014 and March 2015, with the help of young volunteer Sherif Abdullah, and under the supervision of Mohamed Nada, we organised a new survey to reveal the current status of the trade in Alexandria’s fish markets and to gain insights into the local community’s perceptions.

Sherif visited fish markets and artefact shops and also tracked down covert trade locations or storage rooms, to observe their activities. He took considerable personal risks in doing so, as sea turtle trade is illegal in Egypt. He recorded both open and covert trading taking place in 6 markets in 3 areas of Alexandria. The trade has increased by 60-120% in comparison to surveys in 1998-1999 and 2007. The last survey in 2007 had shown that open trading at least had ceased thanks to past efforts, though some covert trading persisted.

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ATLAS DE LAS PRADERAS MARINAS DE ESPAÑA

La primera obra de ámbito nacional sobre la distribución y el estado ecológico de los bosques sumergidos de nuestras costas ya está disponible en formato digital.

Esta publicación fruto del proyecto del Instituto Español de Oceanografía (IEO), Instituto de Ecología Litoral e IUCN, contribuyendo a su financiación la Fundación Biodiversidad, junto con la colaboración de 84 expertos procedentes de todas las comunidades autónomas costeras tiene especial relevancia al recoger la cartografía actualizada de las praderas marinas, emblemas de la biodiversidad marina. El Dr. Cornelis den Hartog, profesor retirado de la Universidad de Radboud de Holanda, destacó en el acto de presentación el “carisma” de Posidonia oceanica, planta marina endémica del Mediterráneo, considerada el ser vivo más longevo que se conoce y cuyos “bosques”, término más apropiado si nos centramos en su papel ecológico son, por lo tanto, los de mayor antigüedad conocida. La pradera de Posidonia oceanica que cubre unos 700 km2 desde la zona de Es Freus (Formentera) hasta la playa de Ses Salines (Ibiza) está declarada Patrimonio de la Humanidad por la UNESCO por ser una de las mejor conservadas.

Singularidad e importancia ecológica y pesquera se dan la mano en las praderas marinas que debemos conocer, y de ahí la importancia del Atlas, y proteger. Esta obra, de gran belleza, constituye una herramienta imprescindible para científicos, técnicos, administraciones gestoras y ONGs que se dedican a la conservación de nuestro patrimonio natural.

Para descargar el Atlas pinchar en la imagen

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