Provision of services for the cleaning of the ancient port of Amathus (UCY-2020-057-EMA)

3 months (June 2021 – August 2021)

Funded by:
Interreg (Greece-Cyprus)

Subcontracted by:
University of Cyprus (Department of History and Archaeology)

Project Description:
The project aimed to temporarily reveal the remaining architecture forming the Ancient Port of Amathus through clearing the surrounding area, in order to obtain reliable information and gain clear images using photogrammetry, allowing for accurate mapping, and modelling for educational purposes. Permits from the responsible environmental authorities were already granted.

Amathus ancient port hosts the last Posidonia oceanica seagrass meadow within Limassol Bay remaining at shallow depths below 5 m. Facing climate change, P. oceanica importance is significant due to its ability to regulate the climate by trapping carbon within its tissues, particularly within its root system called matte; as the seagrass species with the highest carbon burial rates, it can form seagrass matte with humongous carbon storing potential. Other ecosystem services provided by P. oceanica include purification of the water through filtration, protection of coastlines from erosion by absorbing the energy of waves and currents alongside stabilising sediments along the seabed and recycling nutrients. The meadows are also complex habitat for a diverse community of fauna, from juveniles to adults, providing food and utilised as nursery and spawning grounds.

The project proposed the cropping and uprooting of a small fraction of the P. oceanica meadow on the wavebreakers of the ancient port and clearing all other macroalgae growths on the archaeological ruins. Our participation to this project has enabled us to mitigate negative environmental impacts to the P. oceanica meadow surrounding the ancient port and avoid any damage resulting from repetitive anchorage and reckless trimming techniques. Carefully trimming the leaves short, leaving sufficient distance from the petiole of the leaf, has allowed us to ensure almost the full recovery of the seagrass, minimising the overall seagrass mortality.

Small quantities of seagrass were uprooted from the rocks in order to have a clear image of the underlying structure. We voluntarily transplanted all the uprooted P. oceanica shoots with roots intact, to a designated area. Transplantation involved a variety of different materials used as frames to stabilise the transplanted matter (chunks of matte with many shoots or individual rhizomes). Most transplant plots contained trimmed seagrass leaves and one plot contained untrimmed P. oceanica leaves.

It was planned to monitor the efficiency of P. oceanica transplantations over time, allowing the growth and mortality assessment of the shoots, and essential information on whether our transplantation methods was successful. Unfortunately, several months later we observed that bad weather conditions relocated large quantities of sand over our experimental plots which smothered living P. oceanica transplants.

A video from the transplantation experiment can be viewed in our YouTube Channel here: Transplantation video