Mediterranean marine caves are renowned for their biodiversity and ecological value, yet are often poorly understood habitats due to the difficulties encountered in their exploration and monitoring. Very often people with great ideas and knowledge do not have the skills to enter such environments and, as a result, there is a lack of study and understanding.
Thanks to the connection between members of the original core cave diving team and Italian researcher Dr Elena Romano, we managed to start a series of initiatives dedicated to scientific activities. To carry out such tasks, that required both survey and basic scientific work inside the caves, we developed a series of protocols that we improved over time and are now replicable as a model.
From the first projects we learned a lot about how not to do things, and with a quite steep learning curve we managed to involve more institutes and universities, sometimes also single researchers operating independently, to study the underwater coastal caves. With an array of goals and objectives related to marine geology, sedimentology, water chemistry, biology and geomorphology, we nowadays work in close contact with researchers from international organisations and institutes. Coming from two completely different backgrounds, divers and researchers had to learn from each other and especially learn to trust each other, so that the task to be accomplished could be carried out with scientific method, but also in a safe and viable way for divers entering extreme environments.
These efforts lead the researchers to the publication of multiple papers, presentations at international congresses and poster sessions; divers are collecting data and accomplishing the in-water work;, being only one ring of the chain, but this cooperation proved to be fruitful, successful and replicable.
There is also collateral tasks during the campaign weeks, like organising expositions of pictures and produce video documentaries to show local community and tourists the treasure they can find in these waters and increase community awareness of this extremely delicate habitat; also, we try to assist local decision makers in supporting the development of the long awaited marine protected area; more and more organisations are getting interested in these studies, both research institutes and local entities like the aquarium of Cala Gonone and private companies.
Collaborations and Seminars
- University of Strathclyde
- Researchers from Istituto Superiore per la Protezione e la Ricerca Ambientale
- University of Chieti Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra e Geoambientali
- University of Bari Dipartimento Ingegneria e Geologia
- Dive for Antibiotics organization
- Global Underwater Explorers
Links to scientific papers co-authored by Phreatic members :
- Benthic foraminifera as proxies of marine influence in the Orosei marine caves, Sardinia, Italy
- Benthic fauna in a submarine cave of the Spanish coast: preliminary results
- Benthic foraminifera as proxies of environmental variability in the Orosei submarine cave system (Sardinia, Italy)
- Foraminiferal ecozones in two submarine caves of the Orosei Gulf (Sardinia, Italy)
- Scientific diving for the study of Mediterranean cave environments: from protists to mammals
- The distribution of benthic foraminifera in Bel Torrente submarine cave (Sardinia, Italy) and their environmental significance
- Characterization of Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus) bones in Bel Torrente cave (Sardinia, Italy)
- The environmental characterization in Bel Torrente cave (Sardinia, Italy) using benthic foraminifera
- The environmental characterization in Bue Marino cave (Sardinia, Italy) using benthic foraminifera
- Benthic foraminifera as environmental indicators in extreme environments: the marine cave of Bue Marino (Sardinia, Italy).
- 1stSummer School on Geomorphology, Ecology, and Marine Biology. A multidisciplinary approach to the study of insular environments.
- Benthic foraminifera and brachiopods from a marine cave in Spain: environmental significance.