CIESM President launches SUB2 cruise in Messina
6 December 2005, CIESM News

On 6 December, the President of CIESM, Prince Albert of Monaco, paid a special visit to the harbour of Messina, in Sicily, to wish "bon voyage” to the scientists who are taking part in the second research cruise of the Commission. Together with Dr Frederic Briand (Director General of CIESM) and Dr Laura Giuliano (Scientific advisor, in charge of oceanographic cruises), Prince Albert toured the scientific laboratories of the Italian R/V Urania before answering the questions of the many journalists assembled onboard for a special press conference. The R/V Universitatis, which had carried the first CIESM campaign last July, was anchored nearby, to allow the President, warmly received by the leaders of CoNISMa, to visit this ship as well.

Urania left harbour in the evening. Scientists from 14 marine Institutes and five different countries (France, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Italy) will take part in one or both legs of this multi-disciplinary campaign.

The first leg of the SUB-2 cruise concerns an area of the Sicily Channel, which has scarcely been investigated until now. The main objectives are to map the seafloor in high resolution ; to measure the properties and energy transfer in the water column from the surface to the seabottom ; to assess biodiversity particularly in the deepest waters, with an emphasis on microbial and benthic communities. Seamounts, which are hotspots of diversity in the deep sea, will receive special attention in the second leg. Scientists will also look for shifts and changes in the food webs which may affect fisheries.

The first campaign (CIESM SUB-1) made significant discoveries : a marked increase in deepwater temperature and salinity was detected ; evidence for a “subtropicalization” of the area was provided by changes observed in the structure and dynamics of the microorganisms, in particular a decrease in the average size of plankton. These results, compared to those that will be collected during the SUB-2 cruise, will be used to analyze seasonal patterns in the physical variables and biological components of the sea.

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CIESM is proud that Italy – one of its 23 Member States - sponsored these first two cruises. This was made possible with the support of the Italian Environment Ministry, the Consorzio Interuniversitario per le Scienze del Mare (CoNISMa), and the National Research Council (CNR). In addition the Bonino-Pulejo Foundation, made a substantial contribution to the second cruise.