Scientific research

Save The Med's research programmes aim to increase the current knowledge of potentially vulnerable species in the Mediterranean in order to protect them and their habitats. 

Animal Oceanographers

The "Animal Oceanographers" project is an expansion of the "Turtle Oceanographers" which has run since 2013 in partnerships with IMEDEA, the Balearic Island Coastal Observing and Forecasting System (SOCIB), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Stanford University, Tag a Giant, National Geographic Crittercam and Palma Aquarium, and with the support of Fundación Biodiversidad, Fundación BBVA, Fundación Reina Sofia - Proyecto LIBERA, CAIB and The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 

The tracking of selected marine species allows us to see where and at what depths the animals move, follow their migration route and learn in which temperatures and in which areas they spend most of their time. We can then compare this information to the existing information in the AIS system about marine traffic routes and see where the highest collision risks exist. 

This data has enabled the researchers to collaborate with governments around the Mediterranean to change marine traffic routes and/or maximum allowed speeds in areas where fragile marine species are commonly found. 

Furthermore, knowing the areas and the depths at which these animals forage and spend much of their time allows us to work with fishermen to change fishing practices to significantly reduce bycatch. 


Animal Oceanographers

A study for the conservation of the Spinetail devil ray in the Mediterranean

The Spinetail devil ray (Mobula mobular) is classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as endangered in the Mediterranean. As a result of the knowledge accumulated by Save The Med in recent years about their presence and behaviour in the Balearic Sea, we are launching the project MANTATOP, which could constitute a key element for the development of a conservation strategy of elasmobranchs.


There is little information on the biology and ecology of the species in the Mediterranean. However, thanks to telemetry tracking techniques (satellite tags) and the increase in sighting capacity, work is being done to fill existing data gaps. With the Balearic Sea being an optimal area for the research of the species, this project will allow us to deepen our knowledge of these mysterious animals. 


The main objectives of the project are: to examine the migration patterns and vertical movements of the species, collect DNA samples to characterise the Mediterranean population, document their reproductive behaviour and develop risk maps: areas of interaction between mantas and human activities such as the fishing, boating or pollution. 


The information obtained during the project is crucial for the design of an appropriate conservation strategy for the species which will contribute to the regeneration of the Mediterranean. Another priority objective is to obtain an image bank and share the beauty of these majestic animals in order to raise awareness about the importance of conserving our natural heritage.


The project is supported by OceanCare, USFWS (United States Fish and Wildlife Service), Proyecto LIBERA (SEO / BirdLife - Ecoembes - Fundacion Reina Sofía) and NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).


A study for the conservation of the Spinetail devil ray in the Mediterranean

Mediterranean Angel Sharks: Regional Action Plan

Most of the sharks and rays of the Mediterranean face an elevated risk of extinction. Living in coastal waters and growing to over 1.5 metres long, angel sharks are at risk from fishing and habitat degradation.

Three species of Critically Endangered angel sharks are present in the Mediterranean – Sawback Angelshark Squatina aculeata, Smoothback Angelshark Squatina oculata, and Angelshark Squatina squatina. With over 20 coastal states and territories, the complex nature of the Mediterranean creates further need for highly collaborative action to build capacity for angel shark conservation.  In this context, the recently launched Mediterranean Angel Sharks: Regional Action Plan provides a framework for conservation action for angel sharks in the Mediterranean. 

Save the Med Foundation has contributed to the development of said Action Plan, that has been led by the Shark Trust and has counted with the participation of an array of organisations from within the Angel Shark Conservation Network and across the Mediterranean, as well as with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) and the Specially Protected Areas Regional Activity Centre (SPA/RAC). This roadmap is designed to focus efforts to help restore these enigmatic species to robust populations in the region. 

Read the full press release here and download the Action Plan below the image. 

Mediterranean Angel Sharks: Regional Action Plan

Bringing students onboard

In 2018 we launched the Changemakers Project through which we bring school students and their teachers onboard for an unforgettable experience at sea during which they actively participate in our marine research projects. The projects include surveying of sea birds, marine animals, plastic pollution,  ghost fishing and satellite tagging of open sea marine species as part of a project "Animal Oceanographers." 


Bringing students onboard

Bridging the gap between science and local communities

All our projects include an multimedia aspect, where obtained footage is used in the development of engaging education and outreach materials that help bridge the gap between science and local communities. 


Bridging the gap between science and local communities