A team of researchers from the Italian National Research Council’s Institute of Marine Sciences in Ancona spent a week on board the Costa Luminosa to record the presence of sea turtles, dolphins and seabirds while also monitoring the amount of plastic debris in the sea.

At the start of July a new research mission was conducted by the Ancona-based CNR-Ismar (Italian National Research Council - Institute of Marine Sciences). Researchers from the Institute embarked on the Costa Luminosa in order to monitor marine species considered to be ‘at risk’, to take a census of plastic waste at sea and to carry out scientific dissemination activities.
“Part of our work was the sighting of whales and other species of conservation concern; more specifically, there were sightings of sea turtles, Manx shearwaters and groups of bottlenose dolphins”, the CNR-Ismar researchers reported. “The opportunity to conduct monitoring on ships that sail on a regular basis in these stretches of sea where there are protected species is a useful way of extending our knowledge. Bear in mind that in the last 50 years the Mediterranean has lost 41% of its marine mammals and 34% of its fish.”
At the same time, the scientists carried out a survey of plastic debris floating on the sea, recording details of each type of object sighted, the probable source of the pollution, the material concerned, its size and color. The greatest amount of this waste was sighted in the stretch of sea between the Southern Adriatic and the Eastern Ionian, mainly in the form of polystyrene boxes used on fishing trawlers, plastic bags and bottles.
During the cruise the researchers also arranged seminars and talks for the tourists on board, the aim of which was to illustrate the work of the Ancona CNR-Ismar ‘Fishing Technology’ research group and the scientific activity performed on the ship, particularly the ‘BYCATCH’ project dealing with the bycatch of conservation-reliant species of during pair trawling operations.