Financed recently by the European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA) amongst a total of 280 international projects, Portofino Seaweed Garden intends to be a showcase for the brown Cystoseira seaweed (now Ericaria) on the Mediterranean sea, by creating an submerged seaweed garden, looked after and monitored by Portofino’s Outdoor community.
There are two main objectives of the project. On the one hand, our intent is to involve outdoor water sports lovers (SUP, canoeing, snorkeling/coasteering, swimming and boating) in safeguarding, monitoring and recovery activities regarding Ericaria amentacea seaweed forests inside the Portofino Protected Marine Area. The second objective is that of informing about and protecting the Ericaria amentacea forests, by involving local outdoor communities and making sure that other realities can replicate similar projects.
The aims? To Engage, Communicate, Protect
Your monitoring gives you a discount on the rental of the equipment!
Get a discount
Show the notification of successful response to the questionnaire that you will receive via email at our base in Niasca (Portofino) to obtain the discount on the rental of the sports equipment.
Ericaria amentacea is a perennial brown seaweed, typical of the Mediterranean’s rocky shores. It loves waves, sunlight and the rocky coasts of the intertidal area, that zone just above and below the sea’s surface. Just like a tree, it reproduces in the Springtime and loses its branches in the autumn.
Just imagine yourself in an underwater forest: the thick fronds of this seaweed are home to extremely rich biodiversity! Here molluscs, little worms and crustaceans, as well as fish, find food, shelter and a calm place where they can lay their eggs.
The greater the coastal biodiversity, the greater is the sea’s ability to face up to disturbances, such as climatic changes.
Seaweed garden (forest!)
Not just do trees on dry land release oxygen, helping us to mitigate climatic changes. About 50% of the oxygen we breathe comes from the sea, which also absorbs 25% of the excess CO2 in the atmosphere, aiding us to alleviate climatic changes.
The Ericaria amentacea forests are part of this immense blue engine, producing enormous amounts of oxygen and trapping CO2 via the photosynthetic process, in the form of blue carbon.
Ericaria amentacea, “captures and traps” excess CO2 from the atmosphere through photosynthesis, acting as a true “carbon sink”. In the sea, these biological rhythms are much more rapid than those relating to forests on dry land, and when faced with eventual disturbances, have a greater capacity for resilience.
We must continue protecting and renewing these habitats, as they are a valid strategy for mitigating climatic changes.
Phases of the Project
1. Selection of the project at a European level
Portofino Seaweed Garden is the only Italian project selected amongst the 280 international projects by EOCA – European Outdoor Conservation Association!
2. Apice collection
On a sunny July day on board our canoes we went collecting some seaweed ‘cuttings’ from the Eastern slopes of Punta Chiappa, in the B zone of Portofino’s Protected Marine Park. Making sure that we didn’t tread on the already present, luxuriant Ericaria amentacea forest – always be careful when you walk on rocks! -, we collected just a few cuttings, which we then took back to the laboratory.
3. Growth in the lab
The cuttings were placed on little clay discs. Perched there on the discs, gametes then grew that became little seaweeds themselves. Over the weeks, we checked important growth parameters such as nutrient levels, LED lamp irradiance, temperature and levels of water exchange inside the tanks.
4. Implanting and monitoring
Once the lab seaweeds had grown enough, they were implanted at a site inside the Portofino Protected Marine Area, more precisely in Paraggi Bay under the Bonomi Castle. From now on, it will be the outdoor community, with the support of marine biologists, who will renew, monitor and guard the underwater garden filled with Ericaria amentacea!
Often scientists like change; we have observed a very recent change in this case too! Beautiful little seaweed Cystoseira amentacea has changed its name! How come? Using the latest techniques that assist us and allow us to study and improve the classification of organisms, recently scientists have been able to reclassify this seaweed with its new name: Ericaria amentacea
Marine Citizen Science
The watersports community at the service of marine research
Through this project, our aim is to engage outdoor watersports lovers in monitoring the Ericaria amentacea seaweed inside the Portofino Protected Marine Area. The garden is located on the Eastern side of Paraggi Bay, under Bonomi Castle.
Monitor the seaweed with us! Reach the garden by practicing your favorite outdoor sport and follow these simple steps, contributing to the monitoring!
Take a photo of each square containing the discs, centering the outlined extremities > you will help us to monitor how and how much the seaweed is growing!
Point-and-shoot the QR code that you find on the panel positioned next to the garden > you will be directed to this page on the site, where you can fill in the questionnaire
Fill in the survey and upload the photos you took. Have a look all around: how were the sea and weather conditions today? What other fauna and flora do you note in the garden?
Your monitoring gives you a discount on the rental of the equipment! Show the notification of successful response to the questionnaire that you will receive via email at our base in Niasca (Portofino) to obtain the discount on the rental of the sports equipment.
Thanks for your contribution to marine conservation! Follow us to receive updates on the underwater garden: sign up for the newsletter to get updates directly in your inbox and do return and check up on how the seaweeds are growing over the next few months!