Using a benthic lander to explore and monitor vulnerable ecosystems in the Mediterranean Sea

Gianfranco D'Onghia, Francesca Capezzuto, Roberto Carlucci, Angela Carluccio, Porzia Maiorano, Michele Panza, Pasquale Ricci, Letizia Sion, Angelo Tursi


The MEMO (Marine Environment MOnitoring system) baited lander is used to explore and monitor marine ecosystems in the Mediterranean Sea. MEMO is equipped with 2 video cameras, a multiparametric probe and a current meter, fully operative down to 1000 m in depth for 24 consecutive hours. Since 2010, the ecology team of the Department of Biology of the University of Bari (Italy) deployed the MEMO lander in some sensitive and vulnerable deep-sea habitats of the Mediterranean Sea, as part of national and international research projects. Data on environmental parameters (depth, salinity, temperature and current) and related to bentho-pelagic species, their small-scale distribution, size and behavior, have been recorded. MEMO has been also deployed in fragile and structurally complex habitats, such as coralligenous and cold-water corals, in order to monitor physico-chemical and biological variables as part of the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive. Some practical applications of the MEMO lander are reported here, with indications of relative advantages and limitations.

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