When the COVID-19 crisis began and our team was preparing for the challenges that we will likely face over the next few years, we all agreed on one thing: For as long as we are able and with whatever means we have, we are going to give all that we can for the organisation to not only survive this crisis, but to thrive and come out having taken big steps forward, for the regeneration of the Mediterranean Sea. Because if anything, the COVID-19 crisis reminded us that redefining the way humans relate to the environment is more important now than ever. With this positive attitude, much hard work and some luck, we have had what is probably our most exciting summer to date. Read all about it below!
Marine Protected Areas
As part of our regular work to help improve the design and management of marine protected areas, conducted in conversations with the government and stakeholders, we also actively work to involve local communities in the protection of their local MPAs. An example of this is the community leadership project “Discover Your MPA Sa Dragonera” conducted in the municipality of Andratx. Summer highlights include:
– the Dragonera Blava Exhibit (Blue Dragonera) visiting Sant Elm, S’Arracó and Port Adriano
– the launch of @XarxaDragoneraBlava (The Dragonera Network) on Instagram
– a local stakeholder meeting held in July
– creative workshops for children in Port Andratx and Sant Elm
– a Guided tour to the Dragonera Island with hiking and discussions about how locals can contribute to the protection of the area.
Expeditions at sea
This summer season we conducted eight scientific expeditions with STM scientists, expert collaborators and volunteers as well as multimedia expeditions onboard our rib RV Ondine. During these expeditions data and footage for all our research and multimedia projects was collected. In the course of these, we:
– found and rescued five turtles entangled in Ghost FADs. Once recovered in the Palma Aquarium rescue center for marine animals, we helped release them.
– tagged two of the rescued turtles with satellite tags, Gloria and Thunderbird. Follow their travels by clicking here.
– tagged two Spinetail Devil rays (Mobula mobular) and obtained underwater footage of several different groups, group sizes and behaviours. We are excitedly waiting to receive data from these tags!
– recorded sightings of sperm whales and Risso’s dolphins, obtaining data, photo ID and underwater and drone footage.
– recorded observations of bottlenose dolphins and striped dolphins on almost all expeditions.
– recorded additional sightings including marine birds, sunfish, tuna, swordfish and of course, loggerhead turtles.
– surveyed and removed microplastics, floating macroplastics, ghost FADs and large amounts of illegal fishing gear during all expeditions.
– recorded human activities at sea.
– discovered a wide, unknown underwater desert in the Cabrera Archipelago National Park, which is now being investigated by collaborating scientists to evaluate its potential for regeneration.
We were joined onboard by 31 volunteers, 7 Changemaker students with 1 teacher and would like to thank everyone who helped make this such a spectacular summer!
Studying the Spinetail devil ray in the Mediterranean
As previously mentioned, this summer we managed to tag two Spinetail devil rays (Mobula Mobular). The Spinetail devil ray is classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as endangered in the Mediterranean. There is little information on the biology and ecology of the species in the area. As a result of the knowledge accumulated by Save The Med in recent years about their presence and behaviour in the Balearic Sea, we are conducting a satellite tagging study of the species. This project will allow us to deepen our knowledge of these mysterious animals and constitute a key element for the development of a conservation strategy for elasmobranchs.
The Med Ghost FAD project
In July we publicly launched the MED GHOST FADS project through its own website www.ghostfads.org. This collaborative initiative aims to address the management of ghost fishing and marine litter adrift through concerted effort at a Mediterranean basin-wide scale. Our aim is to construct a network of research institutions, sea turtle recovery centres, maritime and port authorities, commercial fisheries and sports fishers, the yachting world and the nautical and coastal tourism sector in general. Collaboration agreements have been signed with the Ports Authority of the Balearic Government (Ports IB), the National Port Authority (Ports de Balears) and the Balearic Islands Fisheries Association. A collaboration agreement was also signed with Fundación Palma Aquarium, responsible for the management of the Marine Animal Rescue Center in the Balearics. In addition, private boat owners and captains are signing up to the “Ghost FAD fleet” via the new website, helping to remove ghost gear and contributing data on their findings to STM.
Dos Manos Schools Programme
For this school year, we have adapted the Dos Manos School Programme content to all potential scenarios that might come into place during the school year of 2020-2021. We already have over 900 students signed up and limited availability. Contact email@example.com for more information and sign ups!
The Changemakers Project
We had a fantastic time at sea together with all the Changemaker teams of 2020. While the Kokua team joined the Toftevaag for nine days, the teams Ceroporciento, Thallassa and Neró joined us for a one day expedition each onboard the solar powered boat Stenella. See some of the highlights in our video on YouTube!
Plastic free Balearics
During the last months the Plastic free Balearic team have:
– worked on the development of a digital registration platform
– conducted an analysis of data capture models
– initiated a comparative analysis of a series of environmental certifications
– worked on the design and strategy for the communication of good practices in the tourism sector in collaboration with Futouris
– collaborated with Inédit Innova, an environmental consultancy company, on the improvements to the Single Use Plastic Index (SUPI).
– won the BeMed call, through a proposal made together with Ibiza Preservation Foundation, with the aim of creating a pioneering certification for the Balearic Islands’ tourism industry.
– participated in a Business Training Capsule organised by PALMA ACTIVA 23rd of July in which the Sustainable Development Goals were presented as an opportunity for the development and implementation of solutions via entrepreneurial projects which allow us to face the world’s greatest challenges in terms of sustainable development.
New campaign about to be launched!
The crisis that we are all navigating through has the potential to teach us so much about the way humans exist in this world and could, if we decide to embrace the lessons learned, pave the path towards a regenerative future. Throughout the summer we have spoken with experts on a variety of topics such as economy, climate change, education, agriculture, regenerative community design and much more, to find out how we can all help regenerate the Balearic Islands and make them more resilient in times of crisis. Stay tuned to take part in this new and exciting campaign!