Oceans Day 2019: Maristanis celebrates with the Othoca Institute of Oristano

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The Maristanis Project celebrated the Oceans Day 2019 together with the Othoca Industrial Technical Institute of Oristano. On Saturday the 8th of June the "Multimedia Wetlands Laboratory" hosted dozens of students, gathered to hear the speeches of the experts of the MEDSEA Foundation and of the Marine Protected Area of Sinis-Isola di Mal di Ventre. The laboratory, created in 2015 by the Environment sector of the Province of Oristano as part of the "ZOUMATE" cross-border project, is a window on the six Ramsar sites embracing the gulf. Shop windows, portals, interactive plans and touch screens guide students and visitors on a journey through the fragile morphological, animal and plant wonders of the wetlands. A true avant-garde educational theater, where the convention stipulated by the Othoca and Maristanis will soon be implemented: MEDSEA researchers will provide training courses on wetland ecosystems to teachers included in the eleven municipalities of the project. Meetings will also be open to a large number of elementary, middle and high school students.

“For us it is essential that the population of the territories involved take part actively in the project. One of our strategies focuses on increasing the degree of community awareness regarding the environmental, economic and cultural value of the Ramsar sites. We have high hopes for teachers and students ", stated in the opening address Vania Statzu, vice president of MEDSEA. Vanessa Melas, the foundation's environmental economist, introduced the boys to the principles of the circular economy: "While the planet's resources are limited, society is tangled in development models that are increasingly oriented towards waste. For this reason, the political institutions have at various levels begun to respond structurally to the problem of waste management. European and national laws and directives are now fundamental for the protection of man and the environment in which he lives. Not only we must strive to reduce waste, it is necessary to recycle and reuse it as much as possible, abandoning the linear economic model in favor of the circular one. The plastic we use only once tortures birds forever".

Not only the birds, which hungry pause on the floating plastic islands, mistaking them for landing points, but also the inhabitants of the sea. Plastic severely damaged the front fin of "Monky" and the intestine of "Sausage", tortoises hosted by the CRES, the Sinis Recovery Center for Cetaceans and Sea Turtles. “The Mistral brings large quantities of macro and microplastics to the Sardinian coasts. We monitored Sardinian waters, we went as far as the Ligurian Sea and the Balearics. We did not find a single site immune to the problem of plastics", said Andrea de Lucia of the IAS, the Institute for the Study of Anthropic Impacts and Sustainability in the Marine Environment of the CNR-National Research Center. His colleague Luca Palazzo moves amid the tanks where ten specimens of sea turtles are monitored. One hundred turtles each year (alive or dead) get treated in the CRES rooms, part of the Regional Network for the Conservation of Marine Fauna in Sardinia.

"Today we know that microplastics are also present in table salt, and that phthalates (plasticizing agents like those capable of softening the films used for food) are carcer-causing. Unfortunately, many scientific discoveries reveal their negative impact on environment and health only many years after the initial enthusiasm”, adds in her speech Maria Pala, MEDSEA’s environmental scientist. The reaction of teachers and students is palpable when on the screen are displayed images showing the consequences of the indiscriminate use of disposable plastic: a sperm whales killed by waste or the explanation of how biomagnification (the process of accumulation of toxic substance in living beings) leads to the maximum concentration of poisons in predators at the top of the food chain, tuna and swordfish at sea, humans in the transition to land.

In recent years it has become one of the symbols of the aggression brought by men to the Earth the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch", a sector of the Pacific Ocean where the currents amass waste to make up a floating island as wide as the Iberian peninsula. But, the students were advised by

Ante Ivcevic, PhD student in Earth Sciences at the University of Marseille and collaborator of MEDSEA, the same phenomenon occurs in the Mediterranean, where the Scirocco wind in the winter season accumulates tons of waste on the Adriatic coast, transforming the beaches, sometimes appendages of important national parks, in desolate dumps. "Not just plastic. The meteotsunami also arrive on our shores, waves created by pressure leaps that can get six meters high and are sometimes devastating for the coastal populations", explains Ivcevic, who then goes on to include the cold month of May experienced in Europe in the wider phenomenon climate change.

Giorgio Massaro, marine biologist of the MEDSEA team, accompanied the students in the world of sea monitoring techniques and technologies. Probes, drones, ROVs (remote-guided vehicles) are all necessary to identify endangered areas: “Bottom trawling destroys expanses of coral grown over the centuries, devastates habitats and fish fauna, is able to lift debris that once on the surface can be even seen from space". Among those who became famous as sea-defenders heroes, Massaro chooses the women, like the American conservationist Julie Packard, the photographer Anne de Carbuccia, the Italian Mariasole Bianco and Francesca Santoro, respectively biologist and expert in sustainable development. All heirs of the pioneer Rachel Carson: "The more we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe around us, the less we should find pleasure in destroying it" wrote the American marine biologist.

From history back to contemporaneity with Massimo Marras, director of the Marine Protected Area of Sinis-Isola di Mal di Ventre: "We must constantly monitor and study to face the dangers threatening our ecosystem, like the aggressive methods of fishing that lead to species extinction. But above all, as a community, we must understand that its protection begins every day in the individual gesture, at the supermarket when we avoid buying disposable plastic products, which the sea will never be able to eliminate".