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Greece

Northern Cyclades Islands

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Seagrass conservation through public outreach and education program

Date Approved: 02.2021

Seagrass

This project protects seagrass, which traps more CO2 than any other marine ecosystem, slowing global warming.

A species of seagrass that is endemic to the Mediterranean (Posidonia oceanica) lays the foundation for rich biodiversity in the sheltered bays around the Northern Cyclades Islands. This part of the Aegean Sea is home to more than 200 species of fishes; loggerhead sea turtles; many bird species, including the rare Aegean gull; bottlenose, striped, and Risso’s dolphins; the Mediterranean monk seal, one of the most endangered marine mammals in the world; and the endangered sperm whale.

The many tourists who come to this stunning area are unwittingly causing the seagrass grave harm. Many recreational boats drop their anchors on the sensitive seagrass beds—and once they tear up the seagrass, it takes a very long time for these slow-growing plants to recover. Boat anchors are the most serious threat to seagrass in the area.

To reduce the damage, this project is funding a seagrass education program. It will target school communities, boat operators, and tourists on four popular islands: Syros, Kea, Andros, and Mykonos. The campaign includes educating tourists with signs and brochures; outreach to island schools with educational materials and photo contests; and community engagement on each island, through meetings and media.

Scientists have long considered seagrass an unsung hero of the environment. The dense meadows formed by these ordinary-looking plants don’t get much attention, but they:

  • Give wildlife (invertebrates, fish, sea turtles, birds, and more) food and shelter
  • Protect shores from storm damage and erosion
  • Improve water quality
  • Support fisheries that coastal communities count on for food and economic security
  • Trap more carbon, per acre, than any other ecosystem on the planet.

Project Updates

June 2021

Our partner, the Cyclades Preservation Fund (CPF) officially launched the “Posidonia Alert” campaign at the Andros Experience, a swimming event that draws crowds of participants, locals, and visitors to Andros Island. Our partners talked to hundreds of participants, as well as local government authorities and environmental groups, at the June event.  They also distributed caps and small flags with the  campaign logo. CPF has announced its partnership with Seacology on its newsletter, website, Facebook and Instagram.

CPF is reaching out to local organizations on each of the four islands. Stakeholders there will help distribute materials to visitors and introduce CPF to schools and port authorities.

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