Why are we walking

these ‘sea traces’?

Our individual behaviors, lifestyles and daily choices have a great impact on the environment that surrounds us, but they can also influence environments that are far and apparently distant from us. This is the case of the SEA. The SEA, for those who live far from it, is something related only to holidays, dreams, and desires. In reality, the SEA is the place where all the waters that flow on land will, sooner or later, arrive, bringing with them solid materials (e.g. mud, sand, branches, trunks and waste) and liquids dissolved in the water, which they collected along their way.

The SEA is the base level of all continental waters and regulates their speed, erosion capacity or the possibility of downwards flow. It is also the main water reserve on the planet and regulates climate and weather. The SEA is a large, huge, reserve of food and raw materials, it is a workplace and a means of transport and, as we said, a source of leisure, dreams and inspiration.

Do you want to collaborate to help us discover traces of the sea in your house?

During the current situation, the world of environmental research has also had to suspend all kinds of field activities. Particularly among those who study marine issues. We have therefore thought of another way to collect data and information useful for our research by asking you to help us, with activities you can do at home, in the surrounding area or even by looking at the landscape outside your window. The idea comes from the fact that many people have been forced to stay at home, connected more than usual online, and perhaps have a little more time on their hands.

We therefore invite you to participate in simple citizen science activities. By collecting data and responding to a series of questionnaires, you can provide us with a lot of data, thus helping to improve our knowledge on various behavioral aspects concerning the environment as well as on specific problems, challenges and opportunities that each of them offers. We would also like to understand your perception and knowledge about environmental issues. Finally, we would like to help you better understand the scientific and socio-economic context of the topics addressed.

How to participate

We propose 3 themes: 1) Water at Home deals with the topic of domestic use of drinking water, 2) The Sea at the Table allows us to better understand your consumption of fish and sea products, and 3) SOS Plastic at Sea offers you an opportunity to reflect on the environmental impact of plastic material and waste.

Participation is simple and fun! Carefully read the instructions below and on the questionnaires and make sure you have access to the internet. We also ask that you respect any dates in which the home survey / monitoring is carried out, eventually prepare tables for the collection of your data, and remember to keep any deadlines. All questionnaires are anonymous and the participation is on a voluntary basis.

Remembering that we need to have the most ACCURATE and RELIABLE DATA possible, so we ask you to:

1. READ the questionnaires BEFORE THE DATES PROVIDED FOR DATA COLLECTION to ensure you know what the questions are that are being asked;

2. ORGANIZE yourself in time to collect the data you will need to fill in the questionnaires;

3. FILL IN the questionnaires by entering all the collected data, by answering all the questions and, please, by always specifying the day on which you made the survey.


The Project

WALKING ON THE SEA TRACES was born from an idea of ​​Francesca Alvisi and Silvia Merlino, research scientists at CNR-ISMAR, and of Elisa Baldrighi of CNR-IRBIM in collaboration with Silvia Mattoni, Francesca Messina and Luca Balletti of the CNR Communication and Public Relations Unit. The aim is to collect, rationalize and enhance various projects carried out at CNR over time with schools and citizens who all focus on the SEA.

Among these, Walking on the Sea Trails..., is the project from which this one draws its name and inspiration. It was born in 2019 also thanks to an idea of Francesca Alvisi, marine geologist at CNR-ISMAR headquarters in Bologna, who proposed a collaboration with the Trekking Italia Association to bring its members, accompanying persons and volunteers to discover traces of the sea even where there apparently are none. The proposed activities were three: 1) a series of spring walks guided by Francesca along paths designed to allow the participants to find traces of the sea even where it was not so evident; 2) a series of 7 seminars each of them dedicated to illustrate one of the 7 fundamental principles of Ocean Literacy, to complement the outdoor activities; 3) a cycle of conferences with invited CNR-ISMAR researchers to illustrate specific marine research topics and activities.

The second project is SeaCleaner a cooperative project born thanks to Silvia Merlino, physicist of the CNR-ISMAR headquarters in Lerici (Italy), who combines research, participatory science and education for environmental sustainability. SeaCleaner was born in the Pèlagos Cetacean Sanctuary, a protected sea area where several marine mammals live, surrounded by coasts that show a curious dichotomy: they are areas rich in parks and protected areas of the highest community interest, known for their beauty and for the uniqueness of their marine ecosystems; at the same time they are highly impacted by human activity.

The purpose of SeaCleaner is to make citizens more sensitive to the problem of increasing pollution from anthropogenic waste present in the sea and in particular those of plastic, which we find in large quantities beached on our coasts. Citizens are informed on the various aspects related to the composition, use, disposal, reuse and recycling of these materials, with a view to optimize their use and reduce their dispersion in the environment. SeaCleaner did this by bringing pupils and citizens closer to science in a proactive way, allowing them to participate in data collection and analysis campaigns, expanding their knowledge and skills and, last but not least, increasing the possibility of collecting a large number of data in very large areas and in short timeframes through participatory science or Citizen Science.

The "format" and the scientific protocol developed within the SeaCleaner project is easily exportable and shareable, as it was conceived and developed by high school pupils. They also created the logo with whom they want to represent the connection between the heart of SeaCleaner, located in the Pèlagos Sanctuary, and the problem of throwing waste into the environment that affects the whole planet and poses itself as a challenge for future generations.

The third project, just developed, is called WaterWeWaste and comes once again as part of a local collaboration, this time between CNR-ISMAR and the Salesian Institute Holy Virgin of San Luca of Bologna (Italy). The interest in water, its cycle, its relationships with climate and the use of water resources comes from a class within the cheACQUA project thanks to a collaboration with Francesca Alvisi who involved a Bologna school to work with the network of schools in Trentino Region coordinated by the FBK Foundation of Trento (Italy). The pupils of Bologna had as their former objective the study the importance of the sea, who represents the basic level of all continental waters, on the evolution of the territory, on the water cycle and on natural and artificial alluvial systems (e.g. rivers and canals, deltas and coastal plains). They shuold have analyzed some specific cases through the creation of models that reproduced the morphology of the coastal area. This Citizen Science initiative was born precisely because of, or thanks to, this period of quarantine that forces everybody to carry out distance learning activities, as an alternative way of learning.

The fourth project is called Tipicità in Blu. Since 2016, CNR-IRBIM has been involved in this festival sponsored by the Municipality of Ancona (Italy) and the Chamber of Commerce with the partnership of several local administrations, Fishing Associations and CNR-IRBIM. The event generally focuses on the link between the city and the sea, from food and wine resources to tourism-economic-cultural resources connected to the Blue Economy. In this context, CNR-IRBIM researchers promote educational activities and workshops for schools and citizens on issues concerning the marine ecosystem and its "inhabitants". They also offer the opportunity to visit the institute illustrating their daily activities in their own laboratories.

During these last few months, the restrictions on movement resulting from COVID-19 do not allow scientists to organize public events and activities related to CITIZEN SCIENCE. Therefore, the idea to collect data by way of short questionnaires addressed to pupils and citizens in relation to their behaviors and attitudes during the Italian lockdown as well as in other countries around the world was born. These surveys aim to understand and compare some aspects of people daily life, such as the consumption of water, fresh seafood, as well as the use and disposal of plastic material. In addition to this, this initiative is also a way to collect data and information related to environmental awareness, perception and purchasing choices of people in this particular period, and to detect any changes in the lifestyles and habits of the population eventually due to the sanitary emergency.

Who we are?


Francesca ALVISI - CNR-ISMAR - Bologna (Italy)

I am a geologist, and in particular a "sedimentary geologist" or sedimentologist and I work at the Institute of Marine Sciences of the National Research Council (CNR-ISMAR). This profession has taught me to observe the area around me, to wonder about its origins and its history and, since I have been working on marine issues, to become aware of how many links there are between the Earth and the Sea.

Passionate about life in the open air, I have always walked, thanks above all to my parents who have transmitted to me, since childhood, the passion for this simple and revolutionary activity at the same time. It is therefore natural that my path would sooner or later meet that of Trekking Italy. In 2005 my first trek as a new member and in 2009 my first trek from SA, then I am also elected councilor and delegate, and nominated as training manager.

Hence the idea of ​​finally connecting work and passion by proposing an official collaboration between CNR-ISMAR and Trekking Italia which had as its theme the discovery of the intense and deep relationships that bind the marine environment to our territories, and achieved through meetings in home and walking together.

In addition, the passion for geology, nature and the storytelling of stories and landscapes has led me since my student to become passionate about the dissemination and communication of science to share with those around me what I gradually learned to understand and therefore to look at with new eyes. Numerous classes, teachers, friends, citizens with whom I have collaborated and worked, always promoting scientific themes and knowledge of the world of research.

Silvia MERLINO - CNR-ISMAR - Lerici (SP) (Italy)

Ph. D. in Astrophysics and elementary particles at the University of Granada - Spain (1997 - 2000), Post-Doc at the University of Parma (2000-2001), Researcher at the INFM (2001 - 2009), now CNR researcher at the ISMAR Institute. His scientific activity until 2009 touched two main fields: "Astrophysics - Galaxy Evolution" and "Didactics and popularization of physics", and from 2009 also Physical Oceanography / marine sciences. He is the author and co-author of national and international scientific and educational publications, and of multimedia courses on CD-ROM and online, some winners of national and international awards. He has organized numerous scientific festivals and dissemination and outreach activities. She was a member of the INFM Research Group for teaching and popularizing physics (2001-2009) and, at the same time, a member of the scientific editorial staff of the Genoa Science Festival. He is co-responsible for the scientific content and multimedia tools of the Arkimedeion Interactive Scientific Museum in Syracuse (Sicily, Italy). He currently carries out research in the field of marine and environmental sciences. sustainable physical and nautical oceanography. It is also actively involved in science education projects, with interventions ranging from citizen science to teaching and non-formal learning programs. She is a member of the Ocean Literacy Italia (OLI) association, of the European Marine Science Educators Association (EMASEA), and is the communication manager for the CNR within the EMSO-Italia Joint Research Unit.

Elisa BALDRIGHI - CNR-IRBIM - Ancona (Italy)

Master's degree in Marine Biology from the Marche Polytechnic University (2007). PhD in Marine Biology and Ecology at the Polytechnic University of Marche (2013) and in close collaboration with the NIOO and NIOZ research centers (Holland), where he spends a good part of the PhD. After obtaining his doctorate, he obtained several post-doc research grants on international projects at the CNR of Ancona, Ifremer and Université de Bretagne Ovest (IUEM-UBO) in France and CoNISMa; wins two research grants (LabexMER and Visiting Scientist) at the Departement Ressources physiques et Ecosystemes de fond de Mer (REM, Brest). He is currently a research fellow at CNR-IRBIM in Lesina and Ancona and is involved in two projects concerning the microbiota of lagoon fish (CNR-IRBIM Lesina) and the quality of coastal waters (CNR-IRBIM Ancona). Actively collaborates with EcoTechSystems s.r.l. and the Polytechnic University of Marche - DISVA (Department of Life and Earth Sciences). The main research topic concerns the ecology and biodiversity of coastal macro- and meio-benthic organisms and of extreme deep marine environments and their interactions with microbial populations in relation to the different environmental characteristics. In addition, particular attention is paid to the taxonomy and functional diversity of nematodes in different marine ecosystems and their interaction with microorganisms and their use as indicators of environmental impact.

The Aquatic team

Federico Plazzi - Institute Salesian BVSL - Bologna (Italy)

Alessia Preci - University of Bologna - Bologna (Italy)

Class 4 of secondary school - Institute Salesian BVSL - Bologna (Italy)

The Seafood team

Sabrina Colella - CNR-IRBIM - Ancona (Italy)

Monica Panfili - CNR-IRBIM - Ancona (Italy)

The Plastic team

Simona Bronco - CNR-IPCF - Pisa (Italy)

Francesca Cicogna and Serena Coiai - CNR-ICCOM - Pisa (Italy)

Marina Locritani - INGV - La Spezia (Italy)

Our partners

The Portuguese team

Joaquim Ramos Pinto - ASPEA - Lisbon (Portugal)

The Spanish team

Gabriel Angel Latorre Diaz - EsenRED / CEHS - Logroño (Spain)

José Manuel Gutiérrez Bastida - ESenRED / Ingurugela - Bilbao (Spain)

The Chinese team

Emily King - COSEE China - Xiamen (China)

The Greek Team

Yolanda Koulouri - HCMR-IMBBC – Crete (Greece)

Athanasios Mogias - Democritus University of Thrace – Alexandroupolis (Greece)

The Brazilian team

Paulo Lima - Viração Educomunicação - Sao Paulo (Brazil)

The Australian team

Tullio Rossi - Animate Your Science - Adelaide (Australia)

The map reproduced here will report the received images and questionnaires. It does not update live but daily.

Those who live abroad can also participate. Follow the instructions on the questionnaires.