NAUTILOS, a Horizon 2020 Innovation Action project funded under EU’s the Future of Seas and Oceans Flagship Initiative, aims to fill in marine observation and modelling gaps for biogeochemical, biological and deep ocean physics essential ocean variables and micro-/nano-plastics, by developing a new generation of cost-effective sensors and samplers, their integration within observing platforms and deployment in large-scale demonstrations in European seas.

The principles underlying NAUTILOS will be those of the development, integration, validation and demonstration of new cutting-edge technologies with regards to sensors, interoperability and embedding skills. The development will always be guided by the objectives of scalability, modularity, cost-effectiveness, and open-source availability of software products produced.

Bringing together 21 entities from 11 European countries with multidisciplinary expertise, NAUTILOS has the fundamental aim to complement and expand current European observation tools and services, to obtain a collection of data at a much higher spatial resolution, temporal regularity and length than currently available at the European scale, and to further enable and democratize the monitoring of the marine environment to both traditional and non-traditional data users.


Activity 1: Technological development of sensing and sampling marine instrumentation

The technological developments will rely on multidisciplinary approaches that include several engineering disciplines (electronics, machining, optics, signal processing, etc.) and oceanographic and environmental disciplines (chemistry, biology, physics, geochemistry).
NAUTILOS cost-effective sensing and sampling marine instrumentation will be developed to target a range of key environmental variables and to be integrated within existing, low-energy consumption platforms.

Activity 2: Integration

The integration phase will be carried out in two ways:

  • Platforms integration – novel multi-platform cooperative network for future autonomous and integrated ocean observation and monitoring will be realised by enabling the coherent, interoperable and common communication and network integration of a lander platform, ASV and AUVs.
  • Sensors to platform integration – communications, data logging systems, protocols and adaptations to the platform will be carried out as required on the respective platforms. Integration of payloads and sensors will also be done on fishing vessels and FerryBox Ships of Opportunity, a new generation of profiling floats, mooring buoys and a lander platform. A non-invasive tagging system for seafaring animals will be integrated with a COTS oxygen sensor in preparation for deployments.
Activity 3: Calval and Scenario Testing

Calibration and laboratory validation for developed sensors and samplers will be carried out to evaluate performance and functionality in relevant, end user specific environments against reference standards and equipment ensuring that sensors with differing methodologies and requirements manage to deliver data of the highest quality. In controlled scenario testing of platforms and sensors, joint operations of multiple platforms with integrated sensors and existing observatories, will be carried out. Environmental threshold conditions will be sought to generate important technical feedback. Joint operations will be organized between lander, ASV and buoys at the POSEIDON Heraklion Coastal Buoy (HCB) with novel equipment such as acoustic sensors, sonar and cameras being used for key seabed habitat mapping. Cross-evaluation will be conducted by comparable assessment performed by divers. A controlled scenario will be carried out in a station in Capo Tirone, Italy integrating three data collecting systems (AUV, boat and a buoy). Verification and preparatory flights with the UAV platform and integrated sensors will carried out in Portugal.

Activity 4: Demonstrations of sensing and sampling technologies in operational environment

Demonstration activities will be carried out with biological, biogeochemical, chemical, and microplastics sensors and samplers in the Adriatic Sea, Aegean Sea, Baltic Sea, Coast of Norway and Archipelago of the Azores island). This will include using commercial fishing vessels and FerryBox ships of opportunity for fisheries/aquaculture management and marine mammal habitat assessments, demonstration of integrated operations of fixed and mobile (sea surface and aerial) observing platforms in coastal and shelf sea regions (fixed point observatories, FerryBoxes, UAVs, ROVs and ASVs), integrated operations in deep-sea fixedpoint observing systems, ARGO profiling float systems in open ocean and deep sea, and observing by animal borne instruments.

Activity 5: Data Management

NAUTILOS aims to make accessible and freely available as much marine data as possible by allowing a data flow towards existing infrastructures and integrators globally accepted and used by the ocean observing community, such as CMEMS, EMODnet, SDC – SeaDataCloud – SeaDataNet, etc. NAUTILOS will work to the relevant standards from the outset (INSPIRE, OGC), and promptly supply relevant field data to the Member States (e.g. BODC, MEDIN), European (e.g. CMEMS), and International bodies (e.g. GOOS).
NAUTILOS will use and integrate data from multiple platforms and sensors and will operationally implement the data management and data transfer to the appropriate Data Assembly Center (DAC) or well-identified official European data repositories. The resulting environmental data will be processed to a form that meets widely accepted data standards such as: MEDIN discovery metadata standard, INSPIRE data specification, etc. For new parameters or data with a less structured data flows, the project will design and develop specific Thematic Assembly Centers (TACs) by adopting and adapting best practices developed for other parameters and anticipating the European integrators and infrastructures.

Activity 6: Data Modelling

Hydrodynamic, biogeochemical and plastic pollution modelling will be addressed in different sites and using different methodologies. OSSE will be performed using new NAUTILUS set of variables.

  • The ROMS model will be applied for a larger fjord system covering an aquaculture farming.
  • The POM model will be used at the Mediterranean basin scale coupled to the ERSEM biogeochemical model, including a carbonate chemistry module and downscaled to an aquaculture site.
  • The MOHID model will be used at the coast of Algarve using two downscale levels for high resolution near the coast. OSSE based on long term Nature Runs will be used to evaluate the benefit of new sensor data developed in NAUTILOS.

Analysis will use EKF and IS4DVAR methods for that purpose. A toolbox for generating synthetic sampled data from the NR will be created. A Lagrangian Individual Based Model, coupled with the hydrodynamic and biogeochemical models, will be used to track the fate of macro- and micro-plastics from major source inputs. Particles sinking velocity due to biofouling, important for the fate of micro-plastics and macro-plastic thin films such as plastics bags, will be parameterized using.

Activity 7: Dissemination, awareness raising and knowledge-transfer

NAUTILOS Outreach, Communication and Dissemination Strategy aims to maximise the project’s visibility, to support engagement of stakeholder groups in a continuous dialogue and to promote the activities, tools and outcomes of the project.
Two capacity building trainings focusing on NAUTILOS marine technology, ocean health and the ESPCE strategy will directly lead to an increase in research capacity by training early career scientists and also distributing e-learning courses to a much larger audience.

Activity 8: Exploitation and Impact

NAUTILOS Exploitation Strategy ensures the long-term availability of cost-effective sensors and the sustainability of the concepts developed within NAUTILOS. An exploitation plan, including an exploitation roadmap, will be drafted to identify and describe all key exploitable results (KERs) of NAUTILOS and propose an exploitation strategy for each.
A NAUTILOS task force, led by the Technological and Innovation Manager, will be appointed at the 2nd half of the project to identify parties interested in the marine technologies, models, data, methodology and know how accumulated during NAUTILOS.
The project’s exploitation plan, the development of an open access marine instrumentation roadmap and a study of the replicability, transferability and scaling up of NAUTILOS instrumentation will foster large-scale exploitability of NAUTILOS developments, taking into account the IOC Criteria and Guidelines on the Transfer of
Marine Technology, transfer knowledge to other entities and positively impact the development of marine observation sectors beyond the project’s length.

Activity 9: Citizen Science Experiments

Two-way knowledge transfer between the science and the community will be enabled via 5 citizen science campaigns demonstrating NAUTILOS instrumentation thus ensuring an impactful outcome, increased awareness and much better understanding of community needs and priorities.

  • Temperature, salinity and chlorophyll sensors will be provided to diving associations for measuring and recording different environmental parameters.
  • А cost effective sampler and a fluorescence sensor will be developed for micro-plastics detection and quantification.
  • А smartphone micro-plastic NIR scanner device will be developed as a citizen science tool for imaging, collecting, identifying, and characterising plastic contaminants in the marine environment. Citizen scientists will be able to download such data at regular intervals and upload them to a dedicated online platform serving also as a visual database of collected data (creation of thematic maps).
  • NAUTILOS products will assist all phases (environmental monitoring, awareness enhancement, behavioural change, policy making) of the management of the environment under a unified EU and national legal framework, by increasing data collection and availability to all stakeholders.
Activity 10: Synergies with ESPCE

NAUTILOS aims to establish collaborations in relation to the European Strategy for Plastics with current and past research and innovation projects, initiatives and networks; to establish collaborations with relevant stakeholders (e.g. industry, policy makers, economic institutes, NGOs); to raise citizen science awareness; to improve the quality, value and extent of blue economy capacity building by providing new tools and essential knowledge to a range of
stakeholders. This will be initially don via 2 capacity building initiatives in Greece and Norway and later achieving wide-scale impact by distributing the training as open access e-learning module.


SO1: Develop and demonstrate improved observing systems in coastal and shelf-sea environments
SO2: Develop and demonstrate improved observing systems in the open ocean and deep-sea environments
SO3: Develop and demonstrate improved observing systems for anthropogenic debris (i.e. macro-, micro-,nano-plastics)
SO4: Develop and demonstrate improved observing systems in commercial operations, i.e. fishing vessels, aquaculture facilities, ships of opportunity
SO5: Develop and demonstrate improved observing systems that utilise animal-borne instruments
SO6: Quantitatively assess the potential improvements on ocean simulation, ocean forecasting and remote sensing derived from NAUTILOS developments
SO7: Appropriately collate, process, and archive all primary environmental data generated during NAUTILOS to ensure that it is maximally Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable.
SO8: Promote and enable the widespread adoption of the NAUTILOS developments to the widest possible range of users and stakeholders (UN legislators to citizen scientists)
SO9: Promote and develop a broad range of collaborations and contributions to international, regional, and national fora concerned with the sustainable management of marine resources and the protection of marine biodiversity with a specific focus on the European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy