The Bertarelli Programme in Marine Science is a long-term commitment from the Bertarelli Foundation to support scientific research in one of the most remote and important Marine Protected Areas. Bringing together some of the world's best scientists to conduct collaborative research projects in a wide range of habitats, the Programme has already started to provide answers to some of the most pressing questions in marine science.
The BIOT MPA is a large, remote, near pristine, no-take reserve which presents an incredible opportunity to take an integrated and interdisciplinary approach to understanding the role of these complex ecosystems for highly mobile species such as tunas, sharks, turtles, and seabirds. And as coral reefs in BIOT were impacted by the 2015-2016 global coral bleaching event, it also provides an important study area to explore the resilience that large marine reserves offer in the absence of fishing and other pressures from human activity.
Between 2017 and 2021 the Bertarelli Programme in Marine Science will transform our understanding of the benefits of the BIOT MPA for terrestrial, reef-dwelling and pelagic species and in its first phase addresses four thematic research areas:
- Sentinel Species - Scientists are determining the distribution, abundance and connectivity of mega-fauna such as seabirds, turtles, tuna, sharks and manta rays. Research will show how these species use the reserve and how it works to protect this biodiversity.
- Coral Reef Resilience - Researchers will consider how the resilience of coral reef species and habitats varies within the BIOT MPA, and then use this data as a baseline for comparison with more heavily impacted reefs.
- Translating Science into Improved MPA Management - Research findings will be used to inform the management needs of BIOT and will support the UK’s international commitments to Sustainable Development Goal 14.
- Communicating Marine Science - The Programme will develop new methods to engage a wide audience in ocean conservation and communicate science and the value of large MPAs.
The next phase of the Bertarelli Programme in Marine Science will explore the open ocean with a planned programme of oceanographic, mesophotic and benthic research.