Linking tourism to environmental monitoring and data collection and analysis at the three sites of Mahdia (Tunisia), Sinis (Italy and Aqaba (Jordan) is one of the most relevant features of the S&T MED Project. To this end, three oceanographic buoys are installed in the thee Project sites and are meant to provide fundamental and key scientific environmental knowledge of the sites, complementing data collected on-site through other methodologies (e.g. visual census, biodiversity surveys, etc.).
Buoys offer the opportunity to obtain real-time, continuous, frequent, and accurate observations of marine conditions that are transmitted to land stations in the three areas and to the central unit located at SZN (Stazione Zoologica “Anton Dohrn”), equipped with a screen for real time viewing of the data with visualisation software, and feeding a worldwide database of Long Term Monitoring Stations, a key tool for understanding global trends in environmental changes. In particular, buoys provide data on the real time condition of the solar radiation, wave conditions, water temperature, streams; info on climate change (by providing information on temperature and pH); pollution by hydrocarbon (industrial harbour, vessel tracks, oil dumping, etc.), organic pollution in the case of Mahdia (where a flow cytometer has been installed). Buoys are equipped with webcams so to provide information on maritime traffic, marine flora and fauna conditions, and weather conditions. All the buoys are designed so that additional modules and sensors can be added in the future, enabling a long-term reuse of the knowledge, equipment and monitoring systems developed in the framework of the S&T MED project. Further, they are powered by photovoltaic panels.
Data generated by buoys can be used at different levels: for scientific purposes as well as for supporting good governance and decision-making by the Destination Management Organizations (DMOs) that are established in the three areas under the Project. But beside providing data, S&T MED’s buoys represent important tools to engage tourists and local communities in environmental monitoring and protection, by increasing their awareness of the values of coastal ecosystems with their associated services and, therefore, proposing an all-out experience of the destinations. This is key to ensure the sustainable development and management in areas where attractiveness depends by and large on the good environmental status of the coastal areas, its biodiversity and habitats.
The Stazione Zoologica “Anton Dohrn” leads this work package. Each target area of the Project is connected to and supported by a local scientific institution that cooperates with the Stazione “Anton Dohrn” in customizing environmental monitoring to sites’ specific features and monitoring needs.