Diving mission in Greece at an important monk seal habitat

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17 July 2017

The first diving mission of 2017 in Greece has been very successful! Our Greek divers kicked off the Healthy Seas diving season in Greece on 8 July with the first ghost net removal action of the year. The target area was a group of islets known as the Lichadonisia, which is a hotspot for biodiversity. The divers aimed to remove as many ghost nets as possible, since these nets create a great danger for marine animals.

The Lichadonisia islets were formed as a result of volcanic activity and lie just off the north-west tip of Evia island, Greece.  They are currently under consideration for inclusion in the NATURA 2000 network as part of a marine protected area. As it appears they may be an important habitat for the Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus).  In recent years, a family of these highly endangered marine mammals has made the islets its home.

Our Greek diving team headed to Northen Evia to dive a German shipwreck called “General Meise”. In the surrounding waters, at a depth of less than 10 metres, there is the concrete-hulled wreck of a 25m long German ship that dates from WWII, the General Meise.  Marine organisms that were attracted and now inhabit the wreck include striking shell-free molluscs – nudibranchs – while the deck has been almost completely colonised by sponges. The development of all this biodiversity presents an impressively colourful picture, but the nets that were covering the stern of the ship, and which were successfully cleared and recovered by the divers, were acting as a death trap to the creatures of the area.

Weather, as well as underwater conditions were excellent, helping the divers and the boat crew do the best out of this mission. Underwater visibility was very good, despite the fact this particular area is famous for its strong sea currents. The mission was successful, the team managed to pull out a large amount of ghost nets covering one side of the wreck. More than 200 kilos of recovered nets will now be taken to be processed as part of a circular economy business model. The recovered fishing nets will be transformed and regenerated into ECONYL® yarn, a high-quality raw material which is used to create beautiful new products, such as socks, swimwear, sportswear or carpets.

Check out our video to get some insights of this exciting diving trip:

The diving trip has been implemented thanks to: Ghost Fishing, MEDASSET, AquaTec Diver Training, VDiveClub and the funders and donators of Healthy Seas.

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