Unlocking the Secrets of the Mediterranean
The name Mediterranean comes from the Latin mediterraneus, meaning "inland" or "in the middle of land”. It’s stretches over an area of 2.5 million km2, from the Strait of Gibraltar to Egypt. For thousands of years, the sea has been the main thoroughfare for civilization. Experts estimate that there are still more than 750,000 wrecks from antiquity waiting on the Mediterranean seafloor. It’s ecosystems are under constant pressure from human activity. There is an exploration imperative, both to understand history, but also to understand where we’re headed.
Our Mediterranean initiative is led by the Octopus Foundation. Their mission is to improve the knowledge of the oceans in the fields of marine biology and underwater archeology. Its ambition: to extend the gigantic library of knowledge of the marine and underwater worlds, both in terms of marine life and cultural heritage. Their expeditions (some still ongoing) have been pioneering efforts in using new digital technologies to tell better stories and open up new possibilities.
Discover one of our Expeditions
Marine turtles are fundamental to the balance of the seas and oceans. These iconic animals have hardly changed in over 250 million years. Today, the seven existing species are threatened by overfishing, ingested plastic particles, and increasing boat traffic... But hope is still permitted. A couple of years ago, while investigating the bluefin tuna industry in the middle of the Mediterranean sea, the OCEAN71 team discovered an incredible place: a surgical center for marine turtle on the notorious island of Lampedusa. Sadly, this small and arid Italian rock is mostly known for the role it played in the refugee crisis. It's the closest European piece of land to Africa. Today, most ignore that the majority of African refugees are directly transferred by boats to mainland Italy before reaching Lampedusa. For almost 20 years, the center for marine turtles in Lampedusa has been successfully running thanks to Daniela Freggi, an energetic French-Italian lady who dedicated her life to better understanding the reptiles. Recently, the Octopus Foundation financially and logistically helped the center and has commissioned the OCEAN71 team to produce a series of media for the public, including pictures, articles, video clips, 3D models, and more. The goal is to show how incredible and important these animals are and the threats they are facing. Nobody knows the consequences we will suffer if they end up disappearing of our seas once and for all.
They hide in the seagrasses of the murky waters of various lagoons around the Mediterranean or the Atlantic. The male caries the eggs and gives birth. They are a family of fish with a very peculiar way to move, eat and hide. It's the seahorse, one of the most iconic animals of our seas and oceans. Known to most of us since a very young age, they are surprisingly absent from the shelves of the scientific departments. In Europe, as they were never consumed or used in the industry, nobody bothered to thoroughly study them. Today, the French association Peau-Bleue decided it was time to fill the gap of knowledge. And the Octopus Foundation is part of the adventure.
Following the 2016 expedition that revealed hundreds of underwater remains in the lagoon next to Oricum, the Octopus Foundation will assist an underwater archaeologist from the UNIGE to begin the careful work of documenting the findings.
Hidden at the very end of the bay of Vlora in Albania, Oricum's ancient harbor is a jewel of historical importance. This site, which saw Julius Ceasar’s first conquest in enemy territory during the Roman civil war (against Pompee and the Senate), has been completely forgotten up until 2005. Incredibly, until the beginning of the 21st century, this ancient harbor city has remained untouched. Indeed, it is safely located on the military ground of Albanian's main naval base. It is still a NATO base today, meaning that very few civilians have been allowed to access and visit the site. In 2009, things have changed nonetheless. Swiss archaeologists from the University of Geneva have teamed up with Albanian archaeologists to study the ancient city of Orikos (Greek) or Oricum (Latin). In 2012 and 2013, they started to dig and uncovered different important parts of the city. These early excavations can be followed through the video documentary that the OCEAN71 Magazine team realized over two seasons: http://bit.ly/2cQFEcx In 2016, the excavations have resumed and the Octopus Foundation has decided to support the search of the city with a full marine documentation. Near the city's harbor, Julius Ceasar mentions in his own writings a hidden port that was protected «from the dominent winds by the city». Today, a lagoon is located in the vicinity which could very well have been used at the time as a harbor. Moreover, the main activity of ancient Oricum was the extraction of the pure white limestone of the Karaburun peninsula. Some say that several of these blocks were used for the massive walls of the Colosseum in Rome… Today, several abandoned quarries are still visible along the coast. Yet, what lies beneath the surface is still a mystery as there aren't any diving infrastructure in Albania. The Foundation has tasked the OCEAN71 team with researching and documenting this area for the scientists, and of course, for the public.
Who doesn't know about the Illiad and the Odyssey ? These epic tales, written by Homer, are considered the basis of modern litterature. The Trojan war (Illiad) is followed by the return of Odysseus to his kingdom, on the island of Ithaca (Odyssey). Whereas we know archeologically the exact location of the city of Troy, no archeologist has ever found the exact location of Ithaca and Odysseus' palace. Up until today, the search around this mythical place has been subject to many theories without being conclusive. It remains one of the biggest enigma of history. OCEAN71 Magazine wants during this mission to study the two main theories : the first one being on modern Ithaca, the second being on the Paliki peninsula on the Western part of Kefalonia. ### Qui ne connaît pas l'Iliade et l'Odyssée ? Ces deux récits, fixés à l'écrit par Homère, constituent la base de la littérature moderne. La guerre de Troie (L'Iliade) est suivie par le retour d'Ulysse vers son royaume d'Ithaque (L'Odyssée). Alors que l'archéologie a permis de situer précisément le périmètre de la ville de Troie, aucun chercheur n'a pu jusqu'à présent localiser avec certitude le royaume d'Ithaque et le palais d'Ulysse. Au fil du temps, plusieurs hypothèses sont nées autour de ce lieu mythique, qui reste à ce jour l'une des plus grandes énigmes de l'histoire. Pendant les deux prochaines semaines, L'équipe d'OCEAN71 Magazine va étudier grâce à son voilier les deux plus importantes hypothèses : la première situe le centre politique du royaume d'Ulysse sur l'île d'Ithaque moderne, la seconde sur la presqu'île de Paliki maintenant rattachée à Céphalonie.
After many missions along the coast of the north-western Mediterranean sea in the past two years, OCEAN71 expeditions return to Fiskardo, in the Ionian Islands, Greece, where the team has initiated ground contacts and preliminary investigations on the remains of an English Beaufighter bomber plane that was shot down during WWII and that sank after an emergency landing on water. The purpose of this 2015 expedition is to push further the underwater investigations of the wreck and complete a comprehensive survey of the whole event. In parallel the OCEAN71 team will set up an ethological survey of the endangered Mediterranean monk seal using various techniques to document its behavior and notably its traveling habits in and out the various caves where it has been spoted by local divers and volunteers from Fiskardo Divers Eco Dive Resort.