Tag Archives: Italy

Survey Reveals Top 10 Dive Sites in Europe

Europe boasts some world class dive sites, with great visibility and masses of underwater life. In a recent poll of SCUBA Travel readers, these were voted the ten best dive sites in Europe. Disagree? Then cast your vote.

    Diving the Booroo
  1. The Zenobia, Cyprus
    The pristine wreck of a huge ferry. Lying on its port side, the wreck starts at about 15 m and descends to 42 m. Fabulous dive. Possibly the best shipwreck dive in the world in recreational depths. 20 m plus visibility and some great swim-throughs. Needs several dives to see anything like all of it.
     
  2. Blue Hole, Gozo
    A beautiful sharp drop off into the blue hole with what seems like limitless visibility and literally feels like you are on the very edge of the world. A most extraordinary dive.
     
  3. Cirkewwa, Malta

    Features the wreck of the Rozi MV as well as stunning underwater topography. Visibility is very good and there iss ea life in abundance: barracuda, morays, octopus, cuttlefish and even dolphins.
     

  4. Booroo, Isle of Man
    The Burroo, with its extremely diverse and plentiful marine life offers a truly magnificent dive. In fact, in areas exposed to the fast flowing current, it is something of a challenge to find a single square centimetre of bare bedrock, so abundant is the life here.
     
  5. Blockship Tabarka, Scapa Flow, Scotland
    This shallow 18 m dive is a real beauty. One of the block ships scuttled to prevent submarine attack during WW2. Covered in life, a beautiful place. Worth the trip and the one of surprises of Scapa. anemones
     
  6. Diamond Rocks, Kilkee, Ireland
    Claimed to by on a par with the famous Yongala. It is a cold water dive off Ireland’s west coast. The bay is fairly sheltered and is teaming with life. The terrain is full of rocks and gullies and the water is really clear.
     

  7. Eddystone Reef, England
    12 miles off Plymouth, England. The reef is from 8 to 60 m. Encrusted with jewel anemones and with the remains of ancient wrecks, including a large 17th century anchor. Stunning.
     
  8. Secca della Columbara, Italy
    BarracudaOne of the best dives in the Mediterranean. It features a steep, beautifully-decorated, wall; large shoal of barracuda; grouper; giant amberjacks and a wreck. The wreck is a 74 m ship which was carrying slabs of marble. It sank in 2005 and rests at 20 m in two parts.
     
  9. Fanore, Ireland

    Shore dive in crystal clear Atlantic water with abundant fish.
     

  10. Chios island, Greece
    Small undersea caves and paths between impressive rocks, colourful reefs and vertical walls.

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Pinna nobilis

Endangered Bivalve, Pinna nobilis, Recovers Off Italy but Suffers in Greece

Pinna nobilis, the giant bivalve, is endangered. Although in some places it has historically been abundant, there has been a lack of up-to-date information about its exact distribution. SCUBA divers therefore went looking for the giant mussel in the Ionian Sea, Italy.
Ionian Sea Map
The results of the study indicate a tentative of recovery of P. nobilis population there, in spite of all the difficulties of a degraded and heavily polluted environment and the damages of illegal fishing methods.

The divers found the pinnids at depths from 3 to 16 m. Their numbers ranged from one individual in 10 hectares, to one every 1.4 hectares. (A hectare is around 2.5 acres or 0.01 square km.)

The survey method employed in this study was non-destructive and relatively simple to perform.

Pinna nobilis lives only in the Mediterranean Sea (which encompasses the Ionian Sea). It likes seagrass meadows and grows up to 120 cm. It sticks up out of the sea bed so is easily seen by divers, once you know what to look for. Although in the Ionian Sea the mussels were found between 3 and 16 m, in other areas of the Med, such as the Adriatic Sea, they live down to 30 m.

In another study, published last month in the Marine Biology journal, Stelios Katsanevakis of the University of Athens investigated the growth and mortality rates of Pinna nobilis in Greece. He found 160 of the mussels and monitored them for 17 months. He discovered that growth rates had a seasonal pattern. The mussels grew slowly during the cold months, and also during August when water temperatures exceeded 29 oC. They grew quickest during late spring and early summer, probably due to an optimum combination of temperature and food availability. Younger individuals grew faster than older ones.

P. nobilis is a protected species in the EU and its fishing is strictly prohibited. However, in the Greek study many deaths were caused by fishing. The mussels were poached exclusively by free-diving and fishing mortality was practically zero at depths below 9 m. Because of this large individuals were restricted to deeper areas.

Journal References:
Environ Monit Assess 2007; 131:339-47.
Marine Biology 2007; DOI: 10.1007/s00227-007-0781-2

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