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Dive2gether and Mare-Mundi

Dr. Robert Hofrichter and Family Koblens have started a cooperation for marine research in Plakias

Cretan environment
 

The environment above and underwater is precious!

Research, Education and Protection
 

To save our underwater world, these are the steps to follow!

 


Cooperation with MareMundi

Who are they?

MareMundi is an Austrian non-profit organisation dedicated to the protection of the Mediterranean Sea.
Led by Professor Robert Hofrichter, MareMundi’s main goal is to protect the Mediterranean for future generations. In order to achieve this goal, MareMundi bases its actions on the following three pillars

  • Research
  • Education
  • Protection
 

How do we fit in?

Having opened our diving school 16 years ago and working in and around the bays of southern Crete on a daily basis, we were able to detect some (minor) changes over time. Examples of this can be seen in the seasonal decrease in the numbers of star fish or the increase in sighted sea cucumber individuals.
Since we as a diving school are completely reliant on the health and well-being of our natural work environment, the Mediterranean Sea, it only seemed logical to us to do our part in preserving it.

After some consideration as to how to tackle this project best we became aware of MareMundi and were immediately convinced of their three-pillar-approach. Soon afterwards the cooperation was born!

Since August 2014 Dive2gether and MareMundi have been working together on various projects. This cooperation became even closer in 2016 when the next step was taken and the “MareMundi Fieldstation” was founded. One of their marine biologists, Martina Stockinger BSc., joined our team in Crete and together with her, Dive2gether became one of the pioneers of marine protection here on the south coast.

In 2018 we had an addition to our marine biology department: Christina Braoun, MSc. Who is going to support Martina in the daily operations.  

 

In order to give our cooperation a purpose we set ourselves different goals.

Briefly summarised they would be the following

Our long-term aim is to establish a marine protected area around the bay of Plakias and thereby educate and inform the local community about environmental awareness and the want to change things for the better by being more sustainable.

As we know that the realisation of this takes time and energy we also set ourselves a “smaller” aim to educate both our guests but more importantly the local communities on the topics of waste, environmental changes, the ecosystems of our bays and the need of protecting them.


Going into more detail our goals are defined as follows

  • Creating a biostation in Plakias, which will raise awareness about marine protection in the area
  • More intensive marine biology education for Dive2gether's guests and other interested visitors 
  • Raising awareness in the local community
  • Intensive work with children and teenagers
  • Feasibility study to create a Marine Protected Area in the south of Crete
  • Mapping and surveying the flora and fauna, biological and ecological research
  • Projects to reduce plastic use, awareness campaigns about the dangers of plastic for marine and terrestrial ecosystems
  • Creating a centre for young biologists
 

School Presentations

Believing that change starts with the participation of the youngest members of our community we regularly go to the local primary school where we teach the children the importance of proper waste disposal.

During interactive talks we explain to the pupils the concept of and reason for recycling, the consequences of overfilled garbage cans close to the shore line and the dangers of plastic in the sea.

Every time we are amazed by the participation of the pupils and we have had plenty of feedback on the enthusiasm of the children who have been taking the information that they have learnt back to their families at home.

Success starts in the small things and this is definitely proof of that.

Marine Biologist Christina in Front of School Children
Marine Biologist Christina in Front of School Children

 

Info Talks on the Latest Topics

Of course, we are not only focussing on children; we also want to spread knowledge about current events happening in and around the Mediterranean Sea with the local community and businesses.

One example for this is an info talk we held for local fishermen and restaurants about the slow but steady invasion of lionfish at our sites.

Presentation about Lionfish given by Vasilis Andreou
Presentation about Lionfish given by Vasilis Andreou

You can have a look at a more detailed summary of this talk here.

 

Beach Clean Ups

As we don’t only want to be involved in the theoretical side of spreading awareness but also want to make a hands-on contribution to the community. We organise and participate in cleaning up the local beaches.

During one occasion we and our voluntary helpers collected an astonishing amount of 75,9 kg of waste consisting of

  • 3520 cigarettes
  • 38 cans
  • 59 plastic cups
  • 103 plastic bottles
  • 67 bottle caps
  • 16 hair tires
  • 178 straws
 

But have a look at our success yourself

 
 
 

Next to various initiatives for the local community we also offer a variety of activities for our guests or other interested tourists.

Weekly Presentations

In accordance with MareMundi’s second pillar Education we have weekly presentations. Every Tuesday and Friday night our marine biologist informs the audience about one of five different topics – completely for free!

Have a look at the list below and make sure to tell us during your intake which presentation you would like to join!

  • The Hidden Life of the Mediterranean Sea
    All about alien like creatures with special tricks to survive a desert like environment.
  • What Makes the Mediterranean Sea So Unique?
    Fresh up your knowledge on the features of the Mediterranean Sea an impress during the next Pub Quiz.
  • The Rainforest of the Mediterranean Sea
    Discover the value of a unique ecosystem and find out what sea grass has to do with it.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight
    Get an eye for “invisible” animals that are right in front of you and enjoy this knowledge during your next dive.
  • The Alien Invasion
    Find out more about species migrating to the Mediterranean Sea and the effects they have on the already existing eco system.
 

Corresponding Research Dives

As we believe that theoretical knowledge is nice but experiencing it in practice is even better we also offer corresponding research dives to three of the presentations.

  • Sea bottom Res
    earch
    Take scientific samples and discover under the microscope what lives in the sand.
  • Seagrass Research
    Help our marine biologist gather more information about this endangered eco system and be part of our mission to protect the underwater world of our bays.
  • Plankton Research
    Put your newly acquired knowledge to a test and use different methods to make the invisible visible.
  • PADI FISH ID Specialty
    You think you know your way around the underwater fauna? Take the FISH ID Specialty and meet some of the lesser known underwater inhabitants.

If you would like to know more about our presentations and our research dives you can have a look here.
If you are interested in joining please contact us in advance as the spaces are limited.

 

Specials

Next to our weekly presentations we also host some extra, marine biology-based events in front of our diving school.

An example here fore is the screening of the documentary film STAWS, according to One Green Planet one of the “5 documentaries that will make you rethink single-use plastics” or a talk on the Whales of the Azores by one of our guest speakers Dipl.-Biol. Peter Zahn, professor of the University Hildesheim, Germany.


STRAW Movie Poster

 
The Movie Poster of the Documentary STRAW The talk of Dipl. Biol. Peter Zahn was a great success


 

Field Trips for University Groups

Combining MareMundi’s first and second pillar, Research and Education, we also host field trips for universities. The program of these days is completely dependent on the wishes and ideas of the professors. Our marine biologist can prepare day filling activities on a variety of topics, such as Seagrass MeadowsSedimentPlankton and Other Sessile Organisms and many more.

Have a look at Robert Hofrichter’s brief summary


Other possibilities

This season (2018) we took the next step in developing our marine biology department and started offering marine biology internships. So if you are interested to peek into the daily life of a marine biologist, if you would like to get some first-hand experiences of the research methods used by our marine biologist and if you want to support our team by managing a small project yourself then just contact us to find out more about the prerequisites and possibilities. 
We are looking forward to your application!


We also offer the possibility of a cooperation for a bachelor or master thesis. If you are currently looking for a suitable partner who can support you with facilities such as a state-to-the-art laboratory, a skilled diving crew which is happy to help out, experience from prior projects and a generally supporting atmosphere you are more than welcome to contact us! Together we will have a look at how to put your idea into operation.