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Recreational Diving and Its Effects on the Macroalgal Communities of the Unintentional Artificial Reef Zenobia Shipwreck (Cyprus)

  • Enalia Physis Environmental Research Centre
  • AP Marine Env.Consultancy Ltd & Enalia Physis Environmental Research Centre

Abstract and Figures

The ecological role of shipwrecks as artificial reefs is well established and often is prime and exclusive destinations for diving tourism. But they are also extremely delicate and sensitive environments. For this reason, the impact of recreational diving on shipwrecks should be taken in consideration since diver’s experience can strongly affect their associated benthic communities. The aim of this study was to verify the impact of anthropogenic activities (scuba divers) on the macroalgal coverage, here considered as indicator of physical disturbance, on the modern shipwreck Zenobia, in Cyprus (east Mediterranean Sea). Divers behaviour was investigated in the wreck and the macroalgal coverage was determined (photo-quadrat method) in three areas differently exposed to physical contact of divers. Our results suggest that diving is having a significant negative effect on the macroalgae coverage of the shipwreck, especially in areas subject to high levels of use (e.g., meeting stations) when compared to control sites in the same wreck. Divers’ behaviour and popular dive routes at the wreck are factors associated to the observed decrease in macroalgae benthic cover. It is important that relevant stakeholders utilizing the Zenobia wreck agree on basic management planning in order to protect and enhance the wreck’s biodiversity. In addition, this study provides for the first time evidence of ecological deterioration of one of the most emblematic shipwreck of the Mediterranean Sea.
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Open Access
OMICS International
Research Article
Siciliano et al., J Oceanogr Mar Res 2016, 4:2
Journal of
Oceanography and Marine Research
Volume 4 • Issue 2 • 1000151J Oceanogr Mar Res, an open access journal
*Corresponding author: Siciliano A, Marine Ecology Research Group, School
of Biological Sciences, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand, Tel:
+64 27 234 2012; E-mail:
Received November 07, 2016; Accepted December 14, 2016; Published
December 20, 2016
Citation: Siciliano A, Jimenez C, Petrou A (2016) Recreational Diving and Its
Effects on the Macroalgal Communities of the Unintentional Articial Reef Zenobia
Shipwreck (Cyprus). J Oceanogr Mar Res 4: 151.
Copyright: © 2016 Siciliano A, et al. This is an open-access article distributed
under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits
unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the
original author and source are credited.
Recreational Diving and Its Effects on the Macroalgal Communities of the
Unintentional Artificial Reef
Shipwreck (Cyprus)
Siciliano A1*, Jimenez C2,3 and Petrou A2
1Marine Ecology Research Group, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand
2Enalia Physis Environmental Research Centre, Aglantzia, Nicosia, Cyprus
3Energy, Environment and Water Research Center of the Cyprus Institute, Nicosia, Cyprus
Keywords: Shipwrecks; Articial reefs; Levantine Sea; Mediterranean
sea; Benthic cover; Macroalgae; Recreational diving; Scuba diving
Articial reefs are dened as submerged structures accidentally
or deliberately sunk in aquatic environments [1], mimicking some
features typical of natural reefs [2] and built with concrete blocks [3,4],
tires, oil platforms [5], submarines, planes and vessels (e.g., shipwrecks)
[6]. Common uses of articial reefs are well documented [7-10] and are
summarized in Table 1.
Shipwrecks represent a particular type of articial reefs, not only
for their ecological role but also for their value for the scuba diving
industry. A particularly important scenario is represented by a
shipwrecks located on a so bottom habitat since its ecological role
is further enhanced due to the diversication of the environment
thanks to the introduction of hard and heterogeneous substrate in
the so-bottom habitat [11,12] representing an ‘oasis’ for biodiversity
and abundance of local communities [13]. Furthermore, numerous
shipwrecks represent denitely unique, spectacular and breath-taking
diving experiences [14,15] and their recreational value has massively
increased in the last 30 years [16-18] in coincidence with the development
of diving activities and related safety precautions [14,19-21].
Due to their popularity for recreational activities and the
consequent high frequentation, shipwrecks are ecologically sensitive
sites [14] and the potentially negative impact of these activities on
shipwrecks and the associated biota are well documented [22,23],
especially for epibenthic or fouling organisms, which are the most
exposed and consequently aected by divers [24]. For the purpose of
this study, we consider “disturbance” as an unbalanced event that aect
natural communities destabilizing their equilibrium and providing
additional source of spatial and temporal heterogeneity compared to
the undisturbed condition [25,26].
Divers’ impact can be summarized into two main categories: Direct
and indirect. Mechanical damage due to the direct contact of part of the
divers’ body (e.g., hands, knees) or gear (tanks, ns, regulators) with
the bottom is very common [27-34]. is type of damage is generally
caused by inexperience and/or poor buoyancy control [14,35] and
the advent of underwater photography seems to contribute with an
additional source of damage when divers try to remain still for taking
pictures laying down to the sea bottom [36] (pers. obs.) or grabbing
and anchoring themselves to irregularities that are usually biogenic
e indirect eect of diving, otherwise, is mainly due to air
bubbles but consequences have usually been related to the shipwreck’s
structure [22,37-41] and there are only a few studies about the potential
consequences of air bubbles on benthic assemblages [42]. Depending
on the substrate and type of epibenthic organisms, the disturbance of
a single diver can virtually be negligible but the impact on epibenthic
assemblages is denitely ecologically more signicant when a high
number of divers are concentrated in a small area [24,43-45]. is is
usually known as ‘cumulative eect’ [38].
Note that the distinction in “direct” and “indirect” eect is strictly
dependent on the level at which the problem is analysed. In fact,
considering the problem from a wider and general point of view (e.g.,
recreational diving worldwide) and according with general models
of biodiversity conservation [26,46], the direct and indirect eects
previously considered can now be joined into a new “direct” threat
The ecological role of shipwrecks as articial reefs is well established and often is prime and exclusive destinations
for diving tourism. But they are also extremely delicate and sensitive environments. For this reason, the impact of
recreational diving on shipwrecks should be taken in consideration since diver’s experience can strongly affect their
associated benthic communities. The aim of this study was to verify the impact of anthropogenic activities (scuba divers)
on the macroalgal coverage, here considered as indicator of physical disturbance, on the modern shipwreck Zenobia,
in Cyprus (east Mediterranean Sea). Divers behaviour was investigated in the wreck and the macroalgal coverage
was determined (photo-quadrat method) in three areas differently exposed to physical contact of divers. Our results
suggest that diving is having a signicant negative effect on the macroalgae coverage of the shipwreck, especially in
areas subject to high levels of use (e.g., meeting stations) when compared to control sites in the same wreck. Divers’
behaviour and popular dive routes at the wreck are factors associated to the observed decrease in macroalgae benthic
cover. It is important that relevant stakeholders utilizing the Zenobia wreck agree on basic management planning in
order to protect and enhance the wreck’s biodiversity. In addition, this study provides for the rst time evidence of
ecological deterioration of one of the most emblematic shipwreck of the Mediterranean Sea.
Citation: Siciliano A, Jimenez C, Petrou A (2016) Recreational Diving and Its Effects on the Macroalgal Communities of the Unintentional Articial
Reef Zenobia Shipwreck (Cyprus). J Oceanogr Mar Res 4: 151.
Page 2 of 8
Volume 4 • Issue 2 • 1000151J Oceanogr Mar Res, an open access journal
concept (the general negative eects of divers) while the “indirect”
threat (dened as “underlying factors, drivers or root cases” [26,46])
can be represented by management [46,47]. Based on these new
denitions, direct and indirect threats are no longer two dierent
sources of damage at small scale but a consecutive series of related steps
in conservation planning (indirect eect-direct eect-impact) [48].
Overall, anthropogenic disturbance can negatively aect
distribution, abundance and taxonomic richness of one or more
benthic species, remarking dierences between areas exposed and
not exposed to a particular disturbance source [49]. In addition, there
is evidence of the suitability of benthic communities or species as
indicators of human impacts [34,50,51] and, in particular, composition
and abundance of benthic macroalgae can be considered as indicators
of physical disturbance [24,52].
e purpose of this study is: (i) Describing the average behaviour
of divers on the wreck, (ii) Verifying the presence of a potential impact
due to recreational diving on the macroalgae coverage of the Zenobia
shipwreck, and (iii) Quantifying the eect of the impact using the
macroalgal coverage as indicator of stress. e photo-quadrat method
was applied on three dierent sites of the shipwreck subject to dierent
physical anthropogenic disturbance and their macroalgal coverage was
Materials and Methods
Study site
e Zenobia shipwreck is a large steel ferry (172 m max length)
located 800 m o Larnaca harbour (34°53’50.441’’N, 33°39’28.26’’E),
in the oligotrophic south-eastern coast of Cyprus, on a muddy-sandy
bottom environment; it sunk in 1980 and lies on its port side at -42
m (Figure 1). Recreational diving on the Zenobia occurs without
interruptions throughout the year and reaches its peak between June
and October, with about two hundred dives per day, mostly repetitive
(Larnaca Sea-Cruises, pers. comm.). By some estimates, the yearly
visitation to Zenobia is 35-45,000 divers per year [53]. Zenobia hosts
well-developed fouling assemblages with a high benthic coverage of
sponges, scleractinian corals, bryozoans that contribute to the high
biodiversity associated with the wreck [53]. e survey was carried
out between mid-August and mid-October 2011, along the starboard
side of the shipwreck (Figure 1), which is the most exposed and almost
parallel to the sea surface limiting any environmental dierences
in factors (such as exposure to sunlight, currents and temperature)
between -17/-20 m.
Divers’ behaviour
Observations on the divers’ behaviour were primarily carried out
on the boat, interviewing dive leaders (operators) about planned routes,
depths and dive time, and on divers-customers, about their level of
experience and the most attractive areas of the shipwreck. Secondarily,
groups of divers were followed along the planned and most common
routes, recording the areas visited and the related divers’ activities.
Excluded from this study were the routes normally used to penetrate
the shipwreck; however, the entry and exit points were recorded.
Preliminary tests for macroalgal cover
Prior to the sampling, the minimum area, dened as the minimum
area able to contain a representative number of species of the population
[54], was determined creating a species/area curve [55,56]. We started
counting the number of species using an initial 25 cm × 25 cm plot, then
doubling the sampling area up to 1 m × 1 m. Results from this method
drove us to choose an area of 50 cm × 50 cm as sampling unit, being a good
compromise between information obtained and sampling eort.
Sampling areas for macroalgal cover
Preliminary observations based on the route typically undertaken
by divers and their behaviour, lead us to choose three areas of interest:
A control area, located along the stern (R), and two impacted areas (A
and B), respectively at the top middle part and the upper part of the
bow (Figure 1).
Location Material Source
studies, habitat
variability, species
Rio de Janeiro,
Brazil Concrete modules [97]
Rio de Janeiro,
Brazil Concrete modules [98]
Belgium Shipwrecks [6]
Brazil Rubber and concrete modules [99]
Israel Ceramic and brick red tiles [100]
Sydney, Australia Sandstone and concrete
blocks [101]
Sydney, Australia Sandstone blocks [102]
Sydney, Australia Sandstone blocks [103]
Adriatic Sea, Italy Concrete blocks [3]
British Columbia,
Canada Floating structures [104]
Sydney, Australia Sandstone blocks [105]
Florida Shipwrecks [106]
Gulf of Mexico Offshore platform [5]
New York Bight Concrete [107]
St. Thomas, U.S.
Virgin Islands Concrete blocks [108]
Portugal Concrete blocks [109]
Rio de Janeiro,
Brazil Rubber and concrete modules [110]
Rio de Janeiro,
Concrete, metal and rubber
block [111]
Rio de Janeiro,
Brazil Concrete blocks [112]
Rio de Janeiro,
Brazil Concrete blocks [113]
South Australia Shipwreck [114]
Mexico Tires [115]
Adriatic Sea, Italy Concrete blocks [3]
Sicily, Italy Concrete blocks [116]
Gulf St. Vincent,
South Australia Tyres [117]
South Australia Tyres [118]
Louisiana Oil and gas platforms [119]
Provision of
nursery areas,
Delaware Bay,
New Jersey Concrete modules [120,121]
State, Brazil Shipwreck [1]
Maldives Concrete [4]
Tourism and
South Carolina [122]
Australia Shipwreck [123]
Western Australia Shipwreck [124]
Italy Pulverized fuel ash (PFA) [125]
Tioman Island,
Malaysia Concrete blocks [126]
United Kingdom Pulverized fuel ash (PFA) [127]
Mariculture Sicily-Malta Floating structures [128]
Table 1: Summary of the most common uses of articial reefs worldwide.
Citation: Siciliano A, Jimenez C, Petrou A (2016) Recreational Diving and Its Effects on the Macroalgal Communities of the Unintentional Articial
Reef Zenobia Shipwreck (Cyprus). J Oceanogr Mar Res 4: 151.
Page 3 of 8
Volume 4 • Issue 2 • 1000151J Oceanogr Mar Res, an open access journal
Sampling procedure and data analysis
A digital camera Canon PowerShot G12 with underwater housing
was mounted on a 20 mm PVC pipe framework (40 cm height) with a
25 cm × 25 cm quadrat mounted at the bottom and a plexiglass plate on
the top ensured that pictures were taken perpendicular and at constant
distance from the bottom. e choice of using a 25 cm × 25 cm frame,
instead than 50 cm × 50 cm, was due to the manoeuvrability of a small
framework compared to a larger one and the shorter distance between
the lens and the substrate allowing higher resolution pictures. en for
each 50 cm × 50 cm plot, which represents our sampling area, we sub-
sampled four 25 cm × 25 cm sub-plots. In each area a 15 m transect was
haphazardly placed and pictures were taken continuously along the
transect and replicated three times using the photo-quadrat method
[24,50,57-59]. A total of 1080 photos were produced for the analysis.
Using image post-processing soware (e.g., Adobe Photoshop), pictures
were cropped to the internal frame border, colours were adjusted,
brightness and contrast were increased as well as colour saturation.
Coral Point Count with Excel extensions [60] was used to analyse the
macroalgal cover by replacing build-in codes according to our needs.
e macroalgal coverage was estimated using 100 points randomly
overlaid over each picture, according with literature [50], for a total of
400 random points for each sampling unit. At each point the presence/
absence of macroalgae was assigned, and points positioned above any
other substrate were discarded. e nal macroalgal coverage for each
sampling unit was the average of its four sub-plots.
Data were square-root transformed and ANOVA test was
performed to compare the macroalgal coverage among the three areas,
followed by a Tukey’s pairwise post-hoc test, using the statistical package
PAST v3.12 [61]. Since it was not possible to identify small-sized algal
species due to image resolution, presence of suspended material (e.g.
mucilage) and organic matter deposited on the macroalgae, we focused
the study on three species (Sargassum sp., Peyssonnelia sp., and Padina
pavonica) for which we calculate the specic coverage. ese species
were chosen because large enough to be easily identied in the pictures
compared with other species and widely distributed.
Divers’ behaviour
Several types of diver behaviour were observed and linked to the
dierent level of interest for the dierent areas of the shipwreck and
in conjunction with the dynamic of the dive. e top middle part of
the shipwreck represented the starting point of the majority of dives.
Mooring ropes for diving boats are directly attached to the shipwreck’s
handrails here, making it a good spot for starting the dive following the
ropes for a correct and oriented drop o. At the bottom, divers usually
stationed in the area awaiting the arrival of the rest of the group and/
or for general pre-dive checks. In both cases, divers usually wait lying
down or kneeling on the bottom rather than maintaining a correct
buoyancy control 1-2 m apart the shipwreck surface. In addition, in
this area sh-feeding by divers is a common activity; divers gather from
dierent groups into a larger group (10-15 divers simultaneously). e
process is repeated several times during a period of about three hours
until the rst charter vessels depart the site of the wreck. In this area of
the wreck the erosion of the macroalgal coverage is evident.
Figure 1: Position of Zenobia shipwreck in Cyprus and layout of transects to determine macroalgal benthic cover (R: control area; A and B: impacted areas). Transects
are not drawn to scale.
Citation: Siciliano A, Jimenez C, Petrou A (2016) Recreational Diving and Its Effects on the Macroalgal Communities of the Unintentional Articial
Reef Zenobia Shipwreck (Cyprus). J Oceanogr Mar Res 4: 151.
Page 4 of 8
Volume 4 • Issue 2 • 1000151J Oceanogr Mar Res, an open access journal
e upper part of the bow represented another critical area as
it coincides, for the majority of divers, with the halfway through
the rst dive. Depending on the divers’ experience level, a typical
dive at the Zenobia comprise two immersions, a deeper one and
a shallower one. Divers diving deeper during the rst immersion
usually performed a deep stop at -17/-19 m in this area, performing
customary communication and checks within the group and before
heading back to the decompression station following the starboard side
of the shipwreck. e behaviour of divers along the stern side of the
shipwreck diered since it is less interesting and attractive than other
parts of the shipwreck. e stern side has less structural complexity and
it is usually visited at the end of the second dive, when divers have to
perform decompression stops or are low on air, limiting their contact
with the bottom and starting the ascent to the surface.
e bow, upper decks, life boats, stackers, car deck, ramps and
propellers are all areas highly visited and show signs of deterioration.
Grati is unfortunately common as well as collection of organisms and
objects from the wrecks’ structure. e le side of the deck, coinciding
with the deeper part of the wreck, represents the salient and most
“fascinating” part of the dives. Here at -40 m depth, divers are advised
to stay at a safe distance from wires, pipes and other sharp or pointed-
edge structures as well as the trucks stacked at the bottom for obvious
security reasons.
Macroalgal coverage
Results from the survey revealed a highly signicant dierence
among the macroalgal coverage in the three sampled areas (ANOVA,
p<0.001). e R transect (control area) reported the highest percentage
coverage (86.1 ± 11.7) while the A and B transects (impacted areas)
reported respectively a coverage of 28.4 ± 29.1 and 27.2 ± 10.1,
respectively (Figure 2). Percentage of cover in transects A and B was
similar (Tukey’s pairwise comparison, p<0.001).
Specic coverage
e most common species was Sargassum sp. with an average
coverage of 52% in the control transects, compared with P. pavonica
(4%) and Peyssonnelia sp. (3.7%). In the impacted areas their specic
coverage falls to less than 5% on average for all three species. While
Sargassum sp. is absent in transect A, it showed a coverage of 3% in
transect B; the species P. pavonica reported lower values (0.08% and
0.11% for transects A and B, respectively) as well as Peyssonnelia sp.
(1% and 1.25% for transects A and B, respectively).
Discussion and Conclusion
e shipwreck Zenobia attracts every year several thousands of
divers from the entire world and probably brings about €14 million
a year [62] in revenue to Cyprus, thanks to the easy access and its
suitability for divers with dierent levels of experience. For this reason, it
represents a particularly vulnerable site and its associated communities
of organisms are susceptible of being aected by recreational diving.
Although scuba diving is considered to be an environmental
friendly form of ecotourism, several studies demonstrated the negative
Figure 2: Comparison of macroalgal coverage representative quadrats from the control (R) and impacted areas (A, B) and corresponding bar chart (mean + SE).
Letters in the bar chart indicate signicant differences (Tukey’s pair-wise comparison). Figure 1 shows the location of transects on the shipwreck.
Citation: Siciliano A, Jimenez C, Petrou A (2016) Recreational Diving and Its Effects on the Macroalgal Communities of the Unintentional Articial
Reef Zenobia Shipwreck (Cyprus). J Oceanogr Mar Res 4: 151.
Page 5 of 8
Volume 4 • Issue 2 • 1000151J Oceanogr Mar Res, an open access journal
impact of divers on marine ecosystems [63] damaging organisms and/
or habitats regardless of whether they are accidental or deliberate
actions, direct or indirect [31,36,64-69]. e damage level has oen
been linked to the intensity of use [44,70,71] and the level of divers’
experience [72-74].
e majority of damages are usually caused by mechanical
breakage [31,33,74,75] and sediments re-suspension [33,70,76]. e
most prevalent type of contacts are n kicks [65,68,75] and it has been
noted that divers wearing gloves made contact with the substrate more
oen than divers with naked hands [65,73,77].
ere is evidence that even snorkelers are known to cause eects
on the marine environment [33,44,45,70] but the eects are easier to be
controlled, for example using informative trails [51]. Supporting this
conclusion [51], remarked that only few snorkelers practice freediving
while divers can easily disturb the environment since they can stay
closer to the bottom and much longer [28,31,33,35,44,67,68,78].
In the Mediterranean Sea, the negative eect of scuba diving on
sub tidal communities has been studied on coralligenous communities
[43], where highly frequented sites showed lower density and smaller
size of bryozoans colonies [34], in marine protected areas, where several
key-species are potentially threatened by recreational activities [79-
81], and on submerged marine caves [80,82], where physical contacts
and sediment resuspension are the main reason of sessile organisms’
decline [79,82].
Due to the unique experience that shipwrecks are able to oer
[14,15], they can be victims of their fame and suer uncontrolled
diving pressure. According to Kirkbride-Smith et al. [83], among the
dierent type of articial reefs, shipwrecks and sunken vessels are
preferred compared to other articial shapes, such as tyres, concrete
modules, break walls, piers, and platforms. Nevertheless, they remark
the strong dierence in the preference of diving sites between new and
experienced divers: while the rst ones prefer to dive on articial reefs
than natural substrates, experienced divers prefer to dive on natural
reefs [83,84]. According to Kirkbride-Stolk et al. [85] and Jakšić et al.
[86], the issue related to negative eect of recreational activities does
not concern the tourism itself but tourists’ responsibility and awareness
which are at the basis of long-term eects and consequences.
Our results suggest that diving is having a signicant impact on
the macroalgae coverage of the shipwreck, especially in areas subject
to high levels of use, and those dierences in coverage and biological
composition may be used as an important and signicant indicator of
health status.
Macroalgal coverage was signicantly lower in highly visited
(impacted) areas, as in the middle area of the shipwreck, where the
consequences of the eects of recreational diving are visible to the
naked eye: the coverage in some cases was thin to the point of showing
the bare wreck’s hull, and it gradually becomes higher moving away
from the mooring points, and relates to divers starting to dive with a
correct buoyancy.
Several studies state that level of experience is directly linked to the
potential damage caused to subtidal communities, attributed mainly
to novice divers coming into contact with the bottom more oen than
the experienced ones [70,73,74,87,88] (pers. obs.) and in some cases it
can play a more relevant role than the actual number of divers visiting
a site [66,70,87].
From a wide point of view, the majority of conservation actions
aimed to protecting biodiversity can be grouped in four categories:
Direct protection and management, law and policy, education and
awareness, and changing incentives [48]. In the last two decades, several
ways have been introduced to handle damages due to recreational
diving on articial reefs, such as shipwrecks, aimed to preserve the
structure itself and the related biodiversity. All these measures are
fundamentally aimed to reducing the eects of divers, then focused
directly or indirectly on the actions of divers (changing behaviour
vs management strategies) [46]. ey mainly consist in two dierent
kinds of initiatives:
Directed towards changing the behaviour of divers [29] through: (i)
A better environmental education [65], (ii) Promoting environmentally
friendly behaviour by diving tourism operators, (iii) Brieng divers
about the vulnerability of organisms attributable to visiting divers, (iv)
Encouraging underwater photographers to be more aware of their actions
when taking photographs [29], (v) Underwater supervision [70];
Using management strategies such as: (i) Introducing charges/
transferable permits to reduce the number of dives and/or divers on
sensitive sites [22,89,90], (ii) Resting some sites from all diving activity
[31] or increasing the number of sites in order to avoid overcrowding
of hot-spots [79], (iii) Using specic shipwrecks protection and
management approaches (i.e., Commonwealth Historic Shipwrecks
Act 1976, in Australia), (iv) Adoption of specic regulations for
photographers [66], (v) Establishing specic trails for snorkelers and
divers [20], (vi) Installing permanent and environmental friendly
mooring [91].
According with the IUCN-CMP classication of direct threat to
biodiversity [46], both direct and indirect eects above-mentioned
fall within the area of “human intrusion and disturbance” (1st
level of classication) and “recreational activities” (2nd level). is
classication represents an ecient, unique and standardized way to
classify potential damages and conservation measures related to any
generic problem threating biodiversity worldwide, allowing an easy
way to share information, experiences, successful solutions, but also
improving the eciency of conservation eorts through cross-project
learning [46].
It has been demonstrated that exhaustive pre-dive briefings and
underwater interventions are two of the best and easiest ways to reduce
coral damage [65,92-95] reducing the number of contacts by 20-80%
[70,93]. Similarly, Di Franco et al. [80] propose to start the dives in
low vulnerability habitats to give divers enough time to make their
comfortable and managing with their buoyancy control. Supporting
this approach, it has recently been demonstrated that physical contacts
are more likely during the rst 10 min of dives [92].
It is interest of most of the stakeholders utilizing the Zenobia, one
of the most emblematic shipwrecks in the Mediterranean Sea, adopting
similar approaches. e conservation of the associated biodiversity
as well as the wreck itself have to consider the management of the
diving activities; this practice eventually has to be implemented to all
sites subject to high diving tourism in Cyprus and elsewhere, in order to
preserve the ecological heritage that makes them very attractive sites [96].
This project was economically and technically supported by AP Marine
Environmental Consultancy Ltd., Larnaca Sea-Cruises, Mr Nick Galea (ENALIA
Research Program), and Mr and Mrs Siciliano. Thanks are also due to Antonino
Milana, for eld assistance, Julia Hartingerova for the sketch of the Zenobia
shipwreck, and all AP Marine team in Cyprus (Kyproula Chrysanthou, Maria
Patsalidou, Louis Hadjioannou and Kalia Aristidou).
Citation: Siciliano A, Jimenez C, Petrou A (2016) Recreational Diving and Its Effects on the Macroalgal Communities of the Unintentional Articial
Reef Zenobia Shipwreck (Cyprus). J Oceanogr Mar Res 4: 151.
Page 6 of 8
Volume 4 • Issue 2 • 1000151J Oceanogr Mar Res, an open access journal
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Citation: Siciliano A, Jimenez C, Petrou A (2016) Recreational Diving and
Its Effects on the Macroalgal Communities of the Unintentional Articial Reef
Zenobia Shipwreck (Cyprus). J Oceanogr Mar Res 4: 151.
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... We quantified the number of fish and invertebrate species present in our sampling sites. Moderately relevant (FR = 2) Free anthropogenic physical pressures (FPP) Impacts from divers, snorkelers, or anchors increase the susceptibility of disease in macroalgae and invertebrates (Claudet et al., 2010;Gladstone et al., 2013;Riera et al., 2016;Siciliano et al., 2016). ...
Ecological resilience, broadly defined as the magnitude of the disturbance a system needs to shift to an alternative stable state, is becoming a critical trait in the Anthropocene era. However, we are far from having baseline resilience data to guide decision makers toward more resilient ecological systems. In the last decade, the resilience assessment framework has taken a sum of products approach to obtain a resilience indicator based on the relevance and the intensity of multiple factors. While factor intensity relies on quantitative data, estimates of factor relevance rely on ordinal data with a lesser understanding of their relative importance to resilience, which may have consequences in the value of the resilience indicator. Here, we computed three resilience indicators to test for the quantitative impact that changes in factor relevance might cause to the resilience indicator. We defined the Inclusive Resilience Indicator of a Site (IRIS) as a relevance-free indicator based exclusively on factor intensity. We also computed the Relative Resilience Potential (RRP) and an RRP with random relevance values (RRP rrv) as indicators based on both intensity and relevance. To calculate these three indicators in rocky reefs of the Alboran Sea, we quantified 17 biological, environmental, and human-related factors known to influence resilience. We used correlation analyses, Linear Mixed Models, and Generalized Additive Models to compare the three resilience indicators and to examine their spatial patterns. We found highly significant positive correlations between the RRP, RRP rrv , and IRIS indicators (r > 0.9, p < 0.001 for all comparisons). All three indicators had equivalent resilience values (p = 0.440), provided non-significant differences in their predictions (p = 0.097), and exposed the same resilience gradients in the Alboran Sea (p < 0.001 for all indicators). IRIS accounted for 94% and 99% of the variance associated with RRP and RRP rrv , respectively, suggesting that the intensity-based IRIS can estimate resilience without the uncertainties associated with factor relevance. The new IRIS indicator proposed in our study may facilitate the acquisition of baseline data needed to further advance in the ecological and management implications of marine resilience.
... The first deployments of ARs strongly aimed to increase the associated ichthyofauna for the improvement of commercial fishing [3,4]. However, during the last decade, the studies of ARs have shifted towards a more integrated ecosystem approach (e.g., [5,6]), in order to understand the communities colonizing the ARs, and how to use the gained knowledge for habitat "rehabilitation" and "restoration" [4,[7][8][9][10][11][12][13]. ...
Full-text available
The marine ecosystems in the Mediterranean are in alarming condition due to the complex and cumulative impacts of anthropogenic activities and natural disturbances. Management, conservation, and restoration of resources in these impacted ecosystems are among the priorities set by Mediterranean countries. Artificial reefs (ARs) are one of the countermeasures widely promoted. The present study describes the hard substrate epibenthic communities found on three ARs (Ierisssos, Kalymnos, and Preveza) located in the Aegean and Ionian Seas (Greece). Samples were collected from the ARs seasonally (four times/year), during 2013 and 2014. Overall, 117 species were identified and a multivariate analysis showed that each area holds a distinct diversity. Serpulid polychaetes dominate Ierissos and Preveza communities, while gastropods were identified as the prevailing taxa in Kalymnos. No seasonal effects were detected, suggesting “stability” and good adaptation of the communities to the local environmental conditions. Salinity was found to affect the community structure. The results of this study illustrate the need for comparative research on ecological processes under contrasting environmental abiotic and biotic local conditions affecting epibenthic communities.
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Shipwrecks are irreplaceable cultural and historical resources, and they also serve as biological habitats. The physical structure of a shipwreck provides habitat for hard-bottom organisms, including sessile invertebrates (anemones, sponges) and protected areas for fish. The structure of a shipwreck is influenced by cultural and natural site formation processes over time. A key unanswered question is: how do site formation processes and changes in biological communities (ecological succession) influence one another? We studied the shipwreck Portland in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary to answer this question, working within the interdisciplinary framework of Maritime Heritage Ecology. Analysis of sonar and video data from 2002–2010 and 2019–2021 revealed substantial structural changes to the bow, freight deck, and stern. Site formation on the bow and stern was clearly anthropogenic, as shown by entangled fishing ghost gear. The assemblage of sessile invertebrates in each of the three shipwreck areas also saw changes in community structure, including changes in the relative abundance of species. We also observed changes in the fish community, but these are more likely the result of regional climatic change. Overall, our study showed that ghost gear is a significant threat to Portland and other shipwrecks in Stellwagen, and that site formation drives changes in the biological community over time.
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The effect of recreational SCUBA diving on coral reefs is likely secondary to many of the commonly cited stressors that threaten the long-term survival of coral reefs, such as rising temperatures. However, recreational SCUBA diving has had documented effects on various benthic organisms. Most research on the effect of SCUBA divers has focused on broken and abraded benthic organisms or the rate at which divers contact the benthos. We tested for differences in the structural complexity and benthic assemblage between pairs of heavily and lightly trafficked dive sites in Bonaire, a popular Carribbean diving destination. There was roughly 10 % less structural complexity in areas of heavy traffic. This is alarming given that the structural complexity of shallow reefs in Bonaire is substantially lower than in the 1970s. Different functional groups of benthic organisms were affected differentially by diving traffic. For instance, massive corals such as Orbicella annularis were 31 % less abundant at heavy than light diver traffic areas, while gorgonians and sponges had similar abundances at heavy and light diver traffic areas. Our results match those of previous studies on the resistance and resilience of tropical benthic reef organisms to physical disturbances that suggest that stony corals are more prone to physical damage than gorgonians and sponges. We provide a number of possible management strategies that could reduce the effects of recreational SCUBA divers on Bonaire and elsewhere, including education/intervention by dive guides and concentration of diving traffic away from areas of stony coral abundance.
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Marine parks are increasingly being established to protect endangered marine ecosystems and the biological diversity that they support. Trade-offs exist between protection and use, and ways must be found to produce economic benefits from marine areas while still yielding protection benefits, a question of particular importance to poorer countries that can ill afford to forego development benefits by enforcing strict protection measures. This paper examines these issues in the context of Caribbean marine parks. A number of countries that have established marine protected areas also rely on ocean-based tourism as an important, sometimes central, component of their economy. Can protection and direct use be compatible? Bonaire Marine Park is examined in some detail and monetary estimates are presented. Initial results indicate that proper management can yield both protection and development benefits but questions of ecosystem carrying capacity and national retention of revenues raise important issues for longer term sustainability. -Authors
The primary aim of this booklet is to inform people about some of the World War II sites (underwater and on the islands) in Chuuk Lagoon, Federated States of Micronesia. The booklet is also intended to compliment the 6 interpretive signs that have bee placed adjacent to the Sapuk Lighthouse, the Chuuk Airport, in the grounds of the Blue Lagoon Resort. and on Tonoas. The booklet is intended to raise an awareness of the historic and archaeological value of the World War II sites in the tourists that visit Chuuk, and their need for preservation. Information about the discovery of the Sapporo Maru (in 2002) and the corrosion investigations of the shipwrecks and aircraft that commenced in 2002, can be found in the booklet. The booklet can be accessed here:
Disturbance is both a major source of temporal and spatial heterogeneity in the structure and dynamics of natural communities and an agent of natural selection in the evolution of life histories. This review emphasises the impact of disturbance on the numerical abundance of populations and on the relative abundance of species in guilds and communities. Disturbance also has an important influence on ecosystem-level processes, eg primary and secondary production, biomass accumulation, energetics, and nutrient cycling. Assemblages of sessile and mobile organisms are subject to disturbance with rather different responses. -from Author
Managers have been advocating the use of artificial reef wrecks to diversify the experiences of recreational divers and thereby reduce the well-known impact on reefs. To examine whether artificial reef wrecks can serve as substitutes for historic shipwrecks this paper discusses the attitude of Australian divers to wreck diving in general and to artificial reef wrecks in particular. While the overwhelming majority of divers surveyed accepted the need for control, the experienced divers were less interested in artificial reef wrecks and less prepared to tolerate controls over their perceived freedom to dive wrecks. We present projections that show that this legacy issue will have largely resolved itself by 2025 due to attrition and natural ageing.
Recreational scuba diving has generally been perceived as an activity with low environmental impact. With the rapid growth in popularity of diving, concerns have arisen that some heavily-dived sites may have diver visitation rates approaching the limit of ecological sustainability. The potential impacts of divers were assessed in underwater surveys at four major dive-sites in Eastern Australia. Recreational divers were followed for 30 minutes, and all contacts with and damage to the substratum or biota were recorded. Information on diver qualifications and experience was collected. The mean number of contacts with the substratum per 30 minute dive at each site ranged from 35 to 121, with a maximum of 304 in a single dive. The majority of contacts were made with fins. Breakage of coral ranged from an average of 0.6 per dive to 1.9 per dive. Most divers damaged no coral, but a small minority of divers broke between 10 and 15 corals each per 30 minute dive. The level of damage to the sites studied appeared to be sustainable at present levels of use by divers. However, at intensively dived, coral-dominated sites, the potential exists for considerable environmental impact as the number of recreational divers increases beyond present levels.