The SPONGE PROJECT is an experiment to revive a marine habitat close to Nisyrian coast by reusing a large metallic marine litter that is not possible to withdraw from the sea. This litter becomes the ‘home’ to host living sponges. Practically, a sponge that was already in this large metallic marine litter was split into pieces within the water back in Novemebr 2021 and tied up with bio strings on metallic surfaces, in a depth of about 7 meters and with a space between them o 20-30 cm. Returning to the area in April 2022, some of the new sponges were still there and alive. The goal of this experiment was to observe if it is possible to revive a habitat that has been destroyed by various human activities since sponges hold the same role in the Mediterranean as the corals in the tropical seas, providing a shelter of various other species. The experiment has been successful, however the process and the created environment still need improvements.
NISYRIO team along with the scientific team, Marine Biologist Dr. Thodoris Kampouris and Environmentalist Anastasia Chatzinikolaou, will work together in order to practically install the sponges in the large metallic marine litter that will become the home for the sponges, develop a public program to share knowledge on marine habitat and the species that are under extinction, collaborate with the local fishermen and engage them to create a fishing free area, and finally the collaborating scientists to develop the scientific analysis of the project to be shared with the community as a practice around the world.
The social need that the SPONGE PROJECT aims to meet is the practical support and revitalisation of the marine habitat and the creation of the artificial reef that will become a home for various other species. Nisyros is part of the Dodecanese complex of islands, an area that used to be very rich in sponges and other species that are now under extinction. The artificial reefs are useful tools for managing the coastal zone and the respective ecosystems. They can work as underwater meeting points for fish corals, crabs, etc, as well as prevent fishing with boats. In the USA many of these points were placed to create an attractive environment for scuba diving. But mainly they are used to support marine biodiversity and eliminate the affection of marine habitats.
“Action implemented in the framework of “Points of Support”, a co-funded programme by John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation, TIMA Charitable Foundation, Social and Cultural Affairs Welfare Foundation (KIKPE), “Captain Vassilis and Carmen Constantakopoulos” Foundation, A. G. Leventis Foundation, AC Laskaridis Charitable Foundation, Costas M. Lemos Foundation, and Bodossaki Foundation”.