Learning the tools to monitor the ocean: our first summer school

Group photo of 2023 Summer School in San Sebastian, Spain. The group is at the aquarium, standing in front of a tank of different fish

On June 5-7, we took part in our first summer school – organised by AZTI and in partnership with four other Horizon Europe projects who share our focus on marine biodiversity.

This year’s summer school was themed around tools: the innovative and practical techniques we can use to monitor the ocean, the services it provides, and the impact of human activities. With human pressures growing – including through newer activities, like renewable energy, aquaculture and seabed mining – we urgently need tools and solutions that can monitor their impact, and ensure they’re being carried out sustainably.

Workshops and talks centred on the tools being used in BIOcean5D and four other European projects recently funded by Horizon Europe: GES4SEAS, OBAMA-NEXT, ACTNOW and MARBEFES. Like our programme, each is using novel tools to monitor and sustain marine biodiversity.

Naiara Rodriguez-Ezpeleta presenting at our first AZTI summer school. She is stood in front of a presentation titled 'using eDNA to monitor different ecosystems at sea: from microbes to mammals'
Naiara Rodriguez-Ezpeleta presenting at the 2023 summer school at the Aquarium of San Sebastian, Spain

From BIOcean5D, Naiara Rodriguez-Ezpeleta (AZTI, Spain) discussed the use of environmental DNA (eDNA) – DNA collected from environmental samples that also contains traces of macroorganisms, creating a snapshot of the organisms in the region, from microbes to mammals. Other talks discussed the use of drones to map and monitor coral reefs and other benthic communities, the use of artificial intelligence to observe pelagic communities in the open ocean, and tools to map and assess ecosystem services. Nearly 60 attendees, from 17 countries, took part in the summer school, at the Aquarium of San Sebastian, Spain.

Summer schools will play an important role in BIOcean5D, thanks to their ability to promote professional development within the marine science community – for us, we hope our summer schools will begin to facilitate a boost in taxonomy skills and a shift towards ‘systems thinking’.

From next year, we’ll be running our annual summer school with a focus on taxonomy. Stay tuned for details – follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter