French English

Press Release, April 2008

Assessing the health of the Mediterranean Sea

Cybelle Méditerranée is a long-term study project of Mediterranean marine biodiversity. Led by Cybelle Planète association, it consists of a data collection campaign, conducted by ecovolunteers amateurs, by diving or from boats. This project gives everyone the opportunity to take concrete action in the service of marine biodiversity. It spreads over several years and will observe the evolution of biodiversity

in the Mediterranean and better understand the impact of global change, including global warming on the Mediterranean marine ecology.

Why this project?

It is rather difficult to assess the impact of global changes (pollution, climate change ...) on Mediterranean marine biodiversity. The lack of scientific side of means does not allow for follow-on large scale and long term. The actions of the Mediterranean are mainly focused on iconic marine species (whales, groupers ...). And too little attention is given to the need to protect all marine species, without exception, and preserve the Mediterranean environment as a whole.
Many people, passionate about the marine fauna and flora, are willing to give their time and energy to the advancement of knowledge.
Cybelle Planet is located on the border between them and scientists. Our goal is to unite all people of goodwill and different skills.

Questions

• What state of the art can be made of the current marine diversity in the Mediterranean?
• What is evolution?

Objectives

• Measure SIMPLY Mediterranean marine biodiversity, in order to understand its evolution,
• Gather non-scientists and scientists.

Project Principle

First, a committee consisting of twenty scientists, set up simple methodologies for data collection:
• Along the coast by scuba diving or observations from shore
• Off: from offshore boats (yachts ...).

Data collection will be done by non-scientific people. The eco-volunteers may participate in diving clubs and associations partners. Each partner appoints a guide, who undergoes annual training, and who is in charge of the supervision of ecovolunteers and the collection of data. These will be returned to Cybelle Méditerranée. The database will be freely available to the scientific community for analysis and interpretation.

What will be measured?

Data collection will be made primarily by diving, and from sailing. The first protocols have been proposed by the scientific committee, the collected data are for indicator species of the state of biodiversity (eg fish, sea urchins, whales, jellyfish) easily identifiable by an amateur biologist.

What is an indicator species?
Indicator species (or sentinel species) are species whose presence or absence indicates an environment imbalance or malfunction of an ecosystem. They are monitoring tools used because it is impossible to monitor all biodiversity.

Some examples of data collected
• Census of Population of jellyfish Pelagia noctiluca
• Identification of populations of marine turtles and sunfish (Mola mola)
• Subscriptions cetacean populations
• Estimate of stocks
• Estimated populations of sea urchins and seaweed stands
• Marine debris Counting

The establishment of an observatory of biodiversity change

Global changes have resulted, among other things, changes in some species ranges (exotic or native). We wish to continuously observe the geographical distribution of these species and monitor changes over time. Each observation of a "new" species by a ecovolunteer be reported to us, accompanied by a photograph and environmental information.

Agenda

In 2008, the first offshore data collection will take place. The training guides (scuba diving and sailing) take place in April and May 2008 all summer guides will supervise eco-volunteers and will conduct observations. Data will be collected on a dive sites 10aine in Languedoc-Roussillon and PACA, and off in the Pelagos Sanctuary for Marine Mammals.