Nota stampa

"Gaia Blu" to explore the depths of the Tyrrhenian, Ionian and Adriatic Sea


(Credits: Cnr)
(Credits: Cnr)

The "ECOREST" cruise is an expedition designed to explore the deep-sea habitats in four strategic areas of the Mediterranean Sea (south Tyrrhenian Sea, northern Ionian Sea and south Adriatic Sea).

The first leg (28th March-11th April 2024) will focus on the Ionian Sea and the south Adriatic Sea, in particular on Santa Maria di Leuca and Bari Canyon, hosting cold-water corals (CWC), and on the Monopoli continental shelf, hosting deep-water oyster reefs. The second leg (4th-15th May 2024) will focus on the Gulf of Naples, in particular, on the CWCs populating the Dohrn Canyon, and on an animal forest dominated by black corals.

These habitats will be documented by means of an underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV). For the first time in Europe, an active restoration strategy will be implemented for deep-sea habitats by removing marine litter (lost fishing gears, plastics, bags, etc) and deploying 3D-printed Artificial Reef Structures (ecoreef) in areas hosting damaged CWC (i.e. Bari Canyon and Dohrn Canyon) to promote the settlement and recruitment of juvenile corals. Ecoreefs will be equipped with underwater cameras that will constitute a new Deep-Sea Observatory Systems (DSOS) that will be included in the EMSO Network as new sites in the marine ecosystem observatories network. The marine litter removed from the seafloor will be stored in Bari and Naples ports and successively recycled by means of a low-temperature pyrolysis prototype to produce 2nd generation marine fuel.

The "ECOREST" cruise contributes to reach tightly interconnected objectives of three European and national research projects (LIFE DREAM, PNRR - National Biodiversity Future Center  Spoke 1 and 2, and PRIN-GLIDE) focusing on investigation and monitoring of marine biodiversity, and deep-sea habitat restoration.

The main goals are:

  • Increase the knowledge on vulnerable habitats by collecting images and videos of deep-sea ecosystems and sampling cold-water corals (CWC) in a non-destructive way;
  • Vulnerable habitat restoration through marine litter removal;
  • Vulnerable habitat restoration through ecoreefs deployment;
  • Monitoring of vulnerable deep-sea habitats trough deployment of benthic camera;
  • Maintenance of EMSO-ERIC moorings BB and FF.

The cruise will test new technological equipment installed on board the R/V Gaia Blu in order to carry out multidisciplinary research, and will  implement actions representing the follow-up to the PIONEER campaign.

Researchers from different institutions will participate to the cruise, involving several research institutes of the National Research Council of Italy (Cnr-Ismar, Cnr-Isp, Cnr-Irbim), Universities (Università Aldo Moro di Bari, University of Galway), and other research centres (SZN, IFREMER).

On board activities will be documented and shared through a documentary produced thanks to the collaboration with SPACE42 Company. Follow us on the social media where seafloor videos and field activities will be shared!

Per informazioni:
Federica Foglini
Paolo Montagna Cnr-Isp, email:

Ufficio stampa:
francesca Gorini
Cnr Press Office

Responsabile Unità Ufficio stampa:
Emanuele Guerrini
06 4993 3383