Explore the direct impact of rising sea temperatures on coastal communities across the Mediterranean.

The Mediterranean is the fastest warming sea in the world. Its temperatures are going up 20% faster than the global average. This increase in temperature is lethal for marine life. The effects of warming waters and the rising sea levels are already having a direct effect, not just on biodiversity, but also on coastal communities all along the Mediterranean.

In this project we have documented the effects of the warming sea on fishermen across the Mediterranean and the studies scientists are conducting to understand how heat is affecting the sea and its biodiversity.

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A diver, a member of a team at ICM dedicated to tracking marine heatwaves in the Mediterranean, collects a group of thermometers set to track temperature at different depths that will later be analyzed.

The rise in temperature is making fishing harder for artisanal fishermen and small fishing fleets. The catches have become smaller, and they now have to travel further and to deeper waters to find fish.

In Spain, a group of biologists are documenting the state of fish in the Mediterranean along with fishermen off the coast of Catalonia. Sandra Ramirez, 32, is one of the leading scientists working with Joaquim Garrabou’s team, the main scientific group tracking marine heat waves in the Mediterranean. They are tracking marine heat waves through marine thermometers, which record hourly the sea temperature in different depths in particular points off the coast of Catalonia and South of France and later translated into graphic data like temperature maps. They are also investigating the effects of the warming sea temperature by analyzing the state of the red coral which bleaches when dying and the Gorgonia an endemic organism like coral who is disappearing massively due to the rise in temperature.

Joaquim Garrabou, the head researcher of the tracking marine heatwaves team, and Sandra Ramirez, a Ph.D. student, dive deep in the Medes Islands to collect samples of Gorgonia and red coral.
The effects of marine heatwaves can be tracked through thermometers and through the effects they have on biodiversity. They are especially harmful to species like red coral, which, due to heat, starts to bleach until all their organisms die.

What it used to be a red basin has now turned white, becoming dead. It’s like watching a forest devastated by fire.

Joaquim Garrabou, head of the research team about marine heat waves at ICM
Xenia Puigcerver, a marine biologist at ICM (the Marine Science Institute of Catalonia), awaits at dawn on the deck of a fishing boat for the first catch of the day. She will weigh and analyze the state of the octopus and during their journey at sea
An octopus is being measured by Xènia. She is part of ICatMar, a team dedicated to studying and tracking the state of certain fishing species in the Catalan coast to analyze their current state.
When fish are caught, they get sorted by size and species. For the past years, the buckets have become emptier by the year.
Fishermen are struggling to make a living from fishing due to the increasing reduction of fish stock in the Mediterranean. In the picture, two fishermen empty their nets off the northern Catalan coast.
Fishing for sardines is a hard task; it requires a long journey at sea. The nets are set several times through the night. The lighting boat goes around them, trying to catch the attention of sardines towards the light. Later, the nets get pulled towards the surface, and the sardines get trapped.
Religion and superstition play a big role in the lives of those at sea. On most fishing boats in the Mediterranean, small figures of saints, Marys, and prayers can be found hidden around the vessels for good fortune and protection.

In Tunisia, the Blue Crab, an invasive and voracious species original from the Red Sea, has taken over in the region due to the increase in water temperature. Artisanal fishermen are struggling to keep up. The increase in temperature and pollution has provoked a downfall in size and number of fish, making it harder for fishermen to live. When the blue crabs get trapped in the nets they break and become useless and need to be replaced, impacting directly on Tunisia’s coastal economy, which depends on fishing.

Thabet Ezzedine, 46, is a fisherman from the island of Qerqennah. In recent years, he has watched his catch fill up with blue crab.
A ‘Drina,’ the Tunisian term for the newly designed traps primarily used to catch blue crabs, is tossed into the water by fishermen in Gabes, just a few kilometers away from the sulfates factory.
An intermediary dedicated to marine trade empties one of the bags full of blue crab he has just bought on a dock in the Qerqenah Islands.
Sonia prepares and cleans a freshly caught crab brought by her husband Thabet, a local fisherman from the Island of Qerqennah. With the arrival of the blue crab, many are seeking new approaches to adapt. Sonia, in particular, sells the crab meat to restaurants and private buyers while also venturing into a cooking business specializing in blue crab on the island.
At the port of Ajim, the second-largest fishing port on the island of Djerba in southern Tunisia, a collection of unused fishing boats can be seen resting on the ground.
In the port of Zarzis, located in southern Tunisia, the fishing net of a recently arrived boat lies untangled on the deck.
Haris Peratikos, 47, a fisherman from Ayia Napa, a small fishing town in Cyprus, has been working as a fisherman for years. Now, due to the decrease in fish stock and the arrival of voracious invasive species, he can no longer make a living from the sea.

In Cyprus, the arrival of invasive species and the rise in the sea temperature is making livelihood for fishermen impossible. Many have to combine fishing with other sources of income in order to meet ends.

A fisherman carefully folds and untangles his net after a day at sea.
Gaitanos, 58, a fisherman from Cyprus, used to go fishing every day. Due to the arrival of the puffer fish, a voracious and venomous invasive species taking over the shallows of Cyprus, Gaitanos can rarely fish for other species; most of his catches are clogged with this species.
An old fishing boat lies half-sunken outside the main fishing port on the Island of Djerba in Tunisia.
A strong squall passes over the Island of Mallorca, leaving vast devastation along the island.

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