M.A.R.E. project (Marine Adventure for Research and Education)


The M.A.R.E. Project (Marine Adventure for Research and Education) was launched in 2021 thanks to the collaboration with the One Ocean Foundation (OOF), as a scientific partner, and with the Centro Velico Caprera, as promoter and organiser, which has now become a Foundation. A long-term programme with a 5-year horizon, which includes several weeks of sailing at sea aboard the One catamaran, aimed at monitoring chemical pollution and marine biodiversity. 
During the expedition, samples of zooplankton organisms, considered natural bioindicators of environmental pollution, are collected in order to trace the presence and distribution of various contaminants in Italy’s seas. In addition to scientific research and monitoring of marine ecosystems, the objective of the project is to disseminate knowledge and awareness regarding crucial environmental issues, promoting responsible behaviours fundamental for the conservation of the marine environment. 
This aim is also achieved through the publication of scientific research, including that by a biologist from the One Ocean Foundation team and other researchers focused on monitoring the distribution of the monk seal in the Mediterranean Sea using environmental DNA (eDNA) analysis. The results show positive signs across the western and central Mediterranean, identifying six “hotspots” that coincide with historic monk seal sites. 
On board the One catamaran there is a team made up of biologists, oceanographers and chemists from various universities and research institutes engaged in the collection, study and dissemination of the culture of marine environment protection. Yamamay supports this exploration, also contributing to the dissemination of the scientific articles produced, and firmly believes that for progress to be made in a sustainable way, it is essential to change the dialogue with stakeholders, improving communication on the activities carried out in support of the environment and the sea.

The main objectives of the M.A.R.E. Project include:

  • Scientific research and monitoring of marine environments
  • Dissemination of knowledge and awareness on environmental issues
  • Promotion of proper behaviour for the conservation of the marine environment
  • Monitoring of marine biodiversity, with attention to species considered cryptic
  • Environmental DNA sampling

During 2023, Yamamay demonstrated its continued commitment to safeguarding the marine environment, through its active participation in the M.A.R.E. 2023 expedition. The beginning of this adventure took place in the majestic naval base of Taranto, from where the catamaran embarked on a fascinating journey along the picturesque eastern Italian coast, crossing the Ionian and the Adriatic Sea, before making its way to the crystal-clear waters of the Aegean Sea, finally reaching the picturesque island of Corfu. 
An extraordinary voyage covering up to 1,235 nautical miles.

2023 Objectives

  • Provide baseline data relating to the general level of contamination by trace elements (TEs) and persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in the eastern Mediterranean Sea and evaluate possible temporal trends relating to contaminant levels.
  • Determine the state of contamination of the basin, comparing the levels measured during the expedition with those available from other areas around the world.
  • Analyse environmental DNA samples in order to identify the presence and distribution of the monk seal in the Adriatic Sea.

In addition to the purely scientific objectives, the mission aims to strengthen and expand the institutional network already created over the previous years, including through the renewal of sponsorships. Moreover, collaborations with national and international research centres have been consolidated in ongoing projects and initiatives, also involving neighbouring countries such as Croatia, Albania, Montenegro and Greece.


2023 Results

Evaluation of the state of contamination by trace metals and persistent organic contaminants

The ocean has long been considered a reservoir for the disposal of waste and pollutants resulting from human activities, such as persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and trace elements (TEs). Although some pollutants, such as Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) and Dichloro Diphenyl Trichloroethane (DDT), have recorded a global decrease over time thanks to various international regulatory measures, they still persist in the environment due to their slow degradation and diffusion through the atmosphere. 
It is therefore crucial to continue to monitor and evaluate the presence of pollutants in the marine environment, as they have a negative impact on the ecosystem, accumulating in living organisms and progressively increasing along the food chain. The use of natural bioindicators, such as zooplankton, is essential to assess the state of marine pollution and monitor any future changes. 


PCBs analysed


trace elements analysed


zooplankton samples collected in the Adriatic Sea

The data relating to zooplankton has highlighted that PCB (Polychlorinated Biphenyl) contamination is not uniformly distributed in the Adriatic Sea: in fact, critical points of contamination have been identified. Interestingly, although the Po River is a significant source of marine pollution, the highest levels of PCBs were detected in the central-eastern part of the Adriatic, particularly in the maritime area between Šibenik and Split, as well as in Albania. 
The main causes of the high concentrations are the presence of the Krka River Estuary, which can potentially discharge wastewater into the coastal area and the high rate of urbanisation and industrialisation of the Split Bay. As regards DDT (Dichloro Diphenyl Trichloroethane), contamination in the Adriatic Sea is low. Only a few samples showed moderate levels: two in the southern Adriatic and two in the northern Adriatic.
The research also examined the levels of 14 heavy metals present in zooplankton organisms in the Adriatic Sea. Many of these metals, such as aluminium, are essential for the physiological mechanisms of marine organisms and therefore are present in higher concentrations. Although each metal shows a specific spacial concentration, possible contamination hotspots with MPI (Metal Pollution Index) above 20 have been identified in the Adriatic Sea. 
The highest MPI levels were recorded in the Corfu area, followed by the Gulf of Venice, the waters of the Tremiti Islands, ​​the Gulf of Taranto, the Croatian waters of Pula and the Island of Lastovo.



Environmental DNA: monk seal

Within the framework of the M.A.R.E. Project 2023, 20 seawater samples were collected to conduct environmental DNA analyses aimed at identifying the presence and distribution of the monk seal in the Adriatic Sea. The monk seal is an endemic species of the Mediterranean Sea and one of the most elusive. It is classified as critically endangered by the IUCN Red List and is considered one of the most threatened pinniped species in the world. 
Although the decline of monk seal populations has been primarily attributed to commercial hunting and persecution by fishermen, conservation measures adopted in recent decades have led to an increase in its population. However, significant gaps still remain in understanding its distribution in the Mediterranean basin, its movements and its use of the habitat. For this reason, the M.A.R.E. Project 2023 focused on this species to help provide critical data on its presence in an area of ​​the Mediterranean Sea that is still little studied.
Out of 20 samples collected, 10% (2 samples) gave positive results, with a very weak signal, both in the Puglia region. This is in line with the rare sightings of the monk seal in recent years in the Adriatic Sea, mainly concentrated in this area of ​​the Mediterranean Sea. 

Looking to the future: M.A.R.E. 2024

In the 2024 mission, the One catamaran will embark on a new route across the Mediterranean Sea, touching the coasts of Liguria, France and Spain, starting on April 27. After two months out at sea, the catamaran will return to the La Maddalena base on July 7.
During the expedition, the Centro Velico Caprera and the One Ocean Foundation will organise scientific conferences and conventions, with the aim of promoting the objectives of the project and disseminating the preliminary results. In particular, the following events are planned:

Opening event  La MaddalenaApril 26
Scientific convention MontecarloMay 7
Scientific convention  BarcelonaMay 31, 2024
Twinning event Municipality of La Maddalena and Ajaccio AjaccioJune 22, 2024
Final eventLa MaddalenaJuly 7