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What will characterize your scuba diving in the sea of Salento? I do not want to exaggerate the attraction of sealife for promotional purposes, or to make a scientific dissertation, I will try simply to point out what will make special your diving holiday in Salento. From a diver to divers.
The abundant and colorful “coralligeno” is what is striking and remains in the heart. From this very special environment was attracted Prof. Pietro Parenzan, who dedicated himself to its study since the 60's. In the name of this scholar is in fact dedicated a small museum in Porto Cesareo. Interesting for those who like to go “deeper”!
Impressing is the lushness of the “coralligeno”. There is a superposition of algae, sponges and anthozoans from diverse colors, from red to blue, making it one of the most beautiful in the Mediterranean.
The coralline algae with calcareous thalli set up first on rocky substrates. When the alga dies the thalli, their skeletons, remain on the rock and are covered by other organisms, in turn covered by other algae.
Along with coralline algae, sponges, cnidarians, bryozoans, molluscs and annelids with calcareous skeleton, contribute to the formation of “coralligeno”. In this environment grow forests of gorgonians (Eunicella and Paramuricea present in Salento at discrete depths unsuitable for beginners) or the arborescent sponges (Axinella). Over the centuries this consortium of organisms created a biological construction similar to coral reefs.
In the Salento coralligeno is expressed in one of its most original forms. The concretions of coralline algae and other calcareous organisms are not formed directly on the rock but they start from small aggregates or shells, on sand as on flat rocks. These aggregates, over the centuries, expand and become real living islands, with species in common with the coral reef, but
with a very different overall shape. Instead of a continuous reef, there are islands of life interspersed with sandy areas.
The so-called "coralligeno’s platform" is an original habitats, delicate, fruit of long periods of construction and very similar to the famous tropical reefs, it is not a simple addition of hard substrate on another hard substrate, but form a hard substrate where there was a mobile and sandy bottom.
While Posidonia receives the attentions of the authorities responsible for habitat protection, due attention is not often tributed to the coralligeno.
Also the rhizomes of Posidonia forms a bio-construction, generated by the overgrowth of various generations.
It will rarely spend an entire dive on Posidonia ... but surely happen to cross it. There are many things to know and appreciate in this plant. In fact, the Posidonia is not an algae but a higher plant that produces flowers and fruits. The old leaves fall from the plant at any time of year but are massed along the banks only in the season of storms forming barriers that, while often smelly, protect the shoreline from erosion. People is usually unaware that their removal (to please the less conscious tourism) is a major cause of the disappearance of the beaches.
The Posidonia beds are so special to be the only Sites of Community Interest in Italy. They host a rich fauna and flora. On its leaves live species of small invertebrates and grow a myriad of juvenile fish. Immediately you will notice that are also inhabited by the largest bivalve mollusk in the Mediterranean, the Pinna nobilis, called “cozza-penna” in Salento, which can reach one meter in length. This mollusk produces the fine linen (bisso), in the past, carded, spun and used for garments of golden color. In recent years, perhaps for the heating of water, the Posidonia tends to flower very often, and it will be common to observe this phenomenon once rare. Today the species is strictly protected.
What about the fish species. Needless to refer to systematic and scientific surveys. I'll tell you what I encountered in my comfortable and easy diving: obviously snapper, corvina, grouper & Co., then a sunfish (Mola mola), monkfish (Lophius piscatorius), sea-hens (Chelidonichthys lucernus), St. Peter's fish (Zeus faber), a remora, stingrays, eagle rays, huge tuna, barracuda and many pelagic and the beautiful "sucks rocks” (a: Lepadogaster), “fish comb” (b: Xyrichthys novacula), red damselfish (c: Anthias anthias) and Donzelle pavonine (d: Thalassoma pavo).
The surface of the sea hides many caves. It is very nice when the sun's rays seep into them. Many fish species use caves as sites for growth of juveniles and often you'll find yourself surrounded by dense clouds of small fish and shrimp.
The cave environments are very spectacular and are a great attraction for underwater tourism. The intense and frequent diving, however, constitutes a threat and we should all pay close attention. Moving in caves brings the risk of damaging their walls rich in bio-constructions.
The “coralligeno”, for the presence of Madreporaria, is located at minimum depth so it is enjoyable with snorkeling too. There are numerous sites of great interest in which the diving equipment is not a necessity: there are numerous surface caves, bays and tidal zone of the cliffs, strange rock structures or archaeological remains lying on sandy or shallow pools of spring water .
The Salento sea is exceptionally clear, even immediately after a storm. The absence of large rivers, the nature of the sands and the depth contribute to this feature. Powerful storms that reach force 6 to 8 occur in the months from November to March with winds coming from South - East, also the Libeccio can breathe sudden and severe. On the beaches, the waves rise up to allow the practice of surfing!
From May to September the state of the sea is generally calm up to strength 3. In all seasons, the winds coming from the north flatten the sea coast and scuba diving is always possible by selecting a sheltered site.
WHO SHOULD YOU CONTACT?
Me of course! Visit the site of Due Mari tour operator and write us describing your travel needs.
We'll help you to have a fantastic diving holiday in Salento, perhaps by moving between different scuba diving to see the most beautiful sites, while your friends or your family members enjoy the place as much as you do, each satisfying the own passions!