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The underwater gardeners of the Aegean

The work of replanting the sea meadows of Poseidonia, damaged by human activities, continues, which started 5 years ago, by the Institute of Marine Protection "Archipelagos". The replanting is carried out by a multi-member group with independent and free diving and is combined with the use of kayaks in order to transport the specially prepared plants to the underwater garden.

The planting of Poseidonia underwater gardens takes place in the area under creation Aegean Marine Life Shelter, in the island complex of Lipsi.

"Planting underwater gardens is a very difficult endeavor. "If one thinks about how difficult it is to take care of a garden on land or a new forest, one imagines and how much more difficult and complicated it is to do this, under the surface of the sea", he states in Athens 9.84, the Director of Research of the "Archipelagos" Institute, Anastasia Miliou. "Apart from the problems caused by the sea currents, the fish that will feed on the new plants, a know-how and methodology is required which we understand month by month and year by year. This methodology that we develop is our goal to be used in other regions of the Aegean and the Mediterranean.

The invaluable value of Poseidonia Meadows

"This is an important protection action, especially at a time when we are used to talking fatalistically about the species of plants and animals we are losing," he said. Mrs. Miliou. "Posidonia meadows are an important part of the ecosystem: there the fish will lay their eggs, thousands of marine species will be fed while their deep rhizome protects them from coastal erosion. At the same time, in terms of dealing with the climate crisis, their importance is enormous, as they absorb carbon. "Sea meadows can absorb up to 35 times more carbon than tropical forests."

What destroys them

"The problem of destroying meadows is not only Greek," she points out Mrs. Miliou. "Overall in the Mediterranean, it is estimated that human activity in the last 50 years has reduced the area of ​​Poseidonia meadows by more than 34%. The meadows of Poseidonia are being destroyed due to illegal fishing, with sliding gears, also by over-intensive and illegal fish farming. Δshould not be allowed in areas where there are meadows but, unfortunately, this is the case in many parts of Greece. One more, a very big problem is the uncontrolled mooring of yachts. In a tourist bay, in summer, up to 40 boats can anchor per day, which means 40 holes a day in a valuable ecosystem. "If we were to apply European law, that should be banned."

Aim for sustainable anchorages

"Our goal together with the Ministry of Environment and the United Nations Office is to create the legal framework, which will protect reforestation wherever it occurs from uncontrolled mooring, something that is already happening in many parts of the world, with the so-called sustainable moorings, which are installed on the seabed to moor the boats ", he notes Mrs. Miliou.

The planting process

"We use parts that are detached from the plants and washed up on the shores either due to bad weather or due to anarchic anchorage. The plants are transferred to tanks until they are ready for planting. It takes several months of preparation. Planting is done by autonomous and free diving, with the supportive use of kayaks. The last planting took place a few days ago by a 25-member team of researchers and students. This is a well-organized and coordinated group project ".

"We are happy to see the result of our action, the ecosystem is recovering and we give it the impetus for this", points out the Research Director of the Archipelago Institute, stressing that photosynthesis at the seabed is very slow and seagrasses are just 6 cm a year ".

Kalliopi Aslanidou


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