Discover the marine biodiversity of the Catalan coast through citizen science: BioMARató 2022

The EMBIBOS research group of the ICM-CSIC is promoting the second edition of the BioMARató, one of Catalonia’s largest citizen science and marine observation events, in which the Horizon Cos4Cloud project collaborates.

BioMARAtó 2022, Barcelona. Credit: Anèl·lides – Serveis ambientals marins.

The initiative is a friendly competition that takes place from the beginning of June until the end of September 2022. The aim is for participants to photograph as many living creatures of the Costa Brava, the Costa Dorada and the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona as possible, including birds, seafront plants or aquatic species and to share these observations on the new citizen science platform called MINKA. The winning region will be the one with the highest number of marine observations registered, the one that detects the most invasive and rare species or with the highest number of participants.

To facilitate citizen participation, the BioMARató organises various aquatic activities such as snorkelling and scuba diving, open to all those interested. The organisations in charge of organising them are the company Anèl·lides – Serveis ambientals marin, the Catalan Federation of Underwater Activities (FECDAS), the environmental association Xatrac and the scuba diving centre Plàncton Diving. In addition, this year the Italian organisation MARLINTREMITI has also joined in, holding a friendly competition between Catalonia and the island of Tremeti (Italy) on 24 and 25 June as part of the Posidonia Festival, which highlights the importance of Posidonia meadows as a reserve and refuge for a large number of marine species.

Once the BioMARató is over, the organisers will count, identify and validate all the observations uploaded to MINKA.

In the first edition, 117 people participated and collected more than 10,000 observations of 1060 different species, including 24 exotic species.

According to Xavier Salvador, ICM-CSIC researcher and one of the persons in charge of identifying and validating the photographs, “we are sure that this year we will surpass these numbers!”

Biodiversity Atlas of Barcelona: the role of the BioMARató

The observations collected in the BioMARató 2021 have contributed to the new layer of marine organisms recently added to the Barcelona City Council’s Biodiversity Atlas, which so far did not include information on marine species. The Atlas has also included the observations of the UrbamarBio citizen science project co-led by Anèl-lides, serveis ambientals marins together with the ICM-CSIC.

BioMARAtó Costa Daurada (Tarragona). Credit: Plàncton diving.

In this sense, the coordinator of the activity, Jaume Piera, who is also the Cos4Cloud’s coordinator and a researcher at the ICM-CSIC and associated with CREAF, points out that “the BioMARató will generate a set of observations impossible to obtain using more traditional scientific methodologies, and this opens the door to new research to study the dynamics of the marine ecosystem on a large scale“.

The BioMARató is an activity promoted by the ICM-CSIC in which, in addition to the organising organisations, the European Horizon2020 projects Cos4Cloud and MINKE, coordinated by the ICM-CSIC, the diving centres iDive, Saita Diving, Vanas Dive, Underwater Barcelona and OCEANICOS are collaborating.

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