Mapping Posidonia Meadows

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Mapping Posidonia Meadows

Mapping Posidonia Meadows

Posidonia oceanica seagrass is unique to the Mediterranean Sea and forms vast underwater meadows that are critical to Ibiza and Formentera’s ecosystem. Posidonia meadows can be more than 1000-years-old and are recognised by UNESCO as World Heritage. But they are being seriously impacted by the growth of tourism and recreational boat use.

Uncontrolled boat anchoring, pollution and coastal construction have already wiped out thousands of square meters of the seagrass. And because it is slow growing, with 1 m2 taking up to 100 years to generate, this loss could have a serious irreversible impact.

Marine biologist Manu San Félix and the Vellmari Association are leading a project to map Posidonia meadows around Formentera to provide a clear picture of their size and state.

We provided €10,000 in funding for the project, which has been matched by Restaurante Juan y Andrea.

The cartography work involves meadows being scanned with a ‘side-scan’ sonar, as well as underwater images taken by divers. The data collected is processed and used to create precise Posidonia maps.

The maps will allow for Posidonia meadows to be monitored so the impact of boats, pollution and climate change can be assessed over time. They will also be an important tool for decision making on activities such as the construction of underwater pipelines.

As part of the project, a mobile app will be launched in 2018 to help guide boat anchoring with real-time information and online surveillance.