In the framework of a research project funded by the Total Foundation (see 'Research' section), an exploration of a spectacular submerged marine cave has been conducted on 5th May, 2016. This cave, called 'La Cattedrale', is located at Marettimo Island, in Sicily (Italy), within the buffer zone of the Egadi Islands Marine Protected Area. Two scientists of the Ecomers Lab (P. Guidetti, A. Di Franco), accompanied by F. Tedone (Marettimo Diving Center), have explored this magnificient cave (see picture here below) to get data on the fish fauna living inside.

The entrance is located at about 30 m depth. The cave is formed by a tunnel approx. 50 m long, followed by a large chamber about 50 m long and 70 m wide, ending at about 100 m distance from the entrance. Inside some typical cave fishes have been recorded, like Grammonus ater and Thorogobius ephippiatus, along with the most abundant fish in Mediterranean marine caves, Apogon imberbis, which is the main subject of this research.


Picture taken inside the submerged marine cave 'La Cattedrale', Marettimo Island, Sicily (Italy). Photo: Sergio Riccardo.

The MMMPA final guidelines address some of the complex needs of Marine Protected Areas management Banc de Poissons 004

The ‘Monitoring Mediterranean Marine Protected Area’ (MMMPA) project (January 1st 2012 – December 31st 2015) has been financed by the European Commission within the 7th Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013). The main aim was to train the next generation of MPA scientists and managers, equipping them with a flexible set of scientific and management skills essential within a wide range of professional environments.
ECOMERS has hosted two PhD students. The first PhD research focus on the conservation and restoration of marine forests, in particular, on the relationships between seaweeds and herbivorous fish, the prospects for artificial structures forestation and the evolution of Fucales in MPAs. The objectives of the second PhD research is to understand the trophic relationships and the energy flows in coastal rocky ecosystems, in order to feed some models (ECOPATH, ECOTROPH) that allow simulations of fishing impacts on the trophic web.
With the aim to address some of the complex needs of Marine Protected Areas management, the results of the “MMMPA project have been synthesized in a series of timely and original guidelines you can download here.

Read more: MMMPA Final Guidelines

Merou scandola tete Giulia Prato has recently defended her PhD "Field monitoring and trophic modelling as management tools to assess ecosystem functioning and the status of high trophic level predators in Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas" in front of an international jury composed of Dr Marta Coll (reviewer), Pr. José Garcia-Charton (reviewer), Dr Giuseppe Di Carlo, Pr Paolo Guidetti (President), Pr Didier Gascuel (co-supervisor) and Pr Patrice Francour (supervisor).

This thesis has been granted by the MMMPA program, supported by the EU. This is the first thesis defended among all the MMMPA's students.

You can download this PhD thesis here.


Read more: Giulia Prato's PhD: 2016 01 29

Nodavirus infections are currently spreading among the Mediterranean grouper populations.

Emarginatus s

For several years, the GEM (Groupe d’Étude du Mérou / Grouper Study Group), with the suport of ECOMERS and other academic institutions, has been studying the patterns of change in the grouper populations in the Mediterranean, and through its national and international network of scientists, it disposes of numerous studies and observations of these fishes.

With regard to the virus by which they are currently affected, in particular, the GEM wishes to share with the public the latest information known to date.

You can download here a factsheet on Nodavirus infections in English, French or Italian.

Read more: Nodavirus infections in the grouper

SPICE (Stress of Pisces as Indicator for the Control of watEr quality)

This new project is funded by the Foundation UNICE which aim is to develop research programs in link with private sector. The main objective of SPICE is to evaluate, routinely, easily, and at low coast, the seawater quality using some fish anatomical characteristics as bioindicator.

The basic idea of the SPICE project is that a vertebrate has normally a development plan with a right-left symmetry (never perfect, for example we are right or left handed more often), and that generally more disturbance (stress) is important during the development of the animal, more asymmetry between left and right side morphology increases. The impact of seawater pollution on the development of larvae or juvenile fish is analysed by comparing asymmetry of their otoliths (structures similar to small "stones" in the head, located in the right and left inner ear).

Otoliths 1 Otoliths 2


 This new tool will allow to provide a low-cost way to assess the potential stress due to a pollution. It is designed to help managers to carry out a regular monitoring and control of sea water quality.

Read more: The SPICE Project is funded by the UNICE Foundation