A new conservation campaign is reaching out to scuba divers in the Mediterranean to assist with the monitoring and identification of marine invasive species – which pose a threat to the region’s biodiversity. Scuba divers will be able to upload information and photographs of invasive species to an online platform called MedMis, which will map locations and help crowdsource information on their distribution, spread and population density.
The Centre for Mediterranean Cooperation of the International Union for Conservation of Nature Centre for Mediterranean Cooperation (IUCN-Med) will launch the campaign this summer, to promote the involvement of scuba diving clubs, scuba divers federations, professional and recreational divers, water sports enthusiasts and the general public.
This initiative is part of the comprehensive MedMIS plan, which is an online information system designed to monitor and identify exotic invasive species within different Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in the Mediterranean, considering that some marine invasive species are one of the biggest and most dangerous threats to the biodiversity of this unique ecosystem.
According to IUCN, the Mediterranean Sea represents 46,000 km of coastline and covers about 2.5 million km2 and is home to around 6% of the world’s marine biodiversity. However, a large number of non-native fish species, mollusks, crustaceans and jellyfish became established in more than 180 marine protected areas distributed among 19 coastal countries. These exotic species threaten to displace the local flora and fauna and could hinder management efforts to maintain or restore their ecological integrity.
This innovative project shows how conservation can be achieved collaboratively by using new technology and harnessing the power of citizens to provide biodiversity data and information critical to addressing challenges of controlling marine alien invasive species.