Sunrise, at the port of Ermoupolis, the capital of the Cyclades: cameras, big, small, underwater ones, diving suits and equipment, notepads, some food and a lot of water are all quickly stored tidily on board the Gioura, the new speedboat of the CYCLADES LIFE team. With us, we have two photographers and WWF Greece’s press officer. Our mission: to meet the team from the Marine Geology and Physical Oceanography Laboratory
of the University of Patras who are mapping the seabed around Gyaros
. The small islet in the middle of the Aegean archipelago hides precious treasures in its underwater embrace – posidonia sea beds and coralligenous formations, indispensable for the health of the marine environment and the organisms that live within it.
The Gioura glides smoothly on the surface of the Aegean. It takes us about 30 minutes to get to Gyaros. St.George, an old traditional kaiki, is slowly carrying the side-scan sonar in the calm waters at the western side of Gyaros. We jump on board. All the scientists from Patras are hooked to the monitors connected to the sonar. The findings sound promising: “Oooh look at that coralligenous reef, I've never seen anything like that”. The rest of us, together with the professional divers who carry out the underwater verification for the scientists, set off for an in-situ observation of the island’s posidonia.
We lose sight of the divers. Cameras, above and below the water constantly click to capture the moment, other team members are frantically keeping notes, while the captain of the Gioura coordinates the expedition. Mission accomplished, we leave Gyaros and continue towards Syros on board the Gioura that gently carries all of us under the bright colors of the Greek sun.
Maria Livanou, WWF Greece