gorgonie_gialle The Ligurian coast, which stretches for more than three hundred kilometres, is very varied. Generally less rugged to the west, steeper and more inaccessible to the east, where the rocky cliffs   plunge into the sea. The Ligurian Sea has been defined by experts as a miniature ocean, in that it brings together all the hydrodynamic phenomena that characterise the gigantic masses of oceanic water. Underwater Liguria is not so different from the terrestrial part; the rocks and the same profiles visible on the surface can also be found in their various forms underwater. The seabed is generally rocky or stony, but there is no lack of sandy stretches especially near the mouths of rivers and, at greater depths, of muddy flats on which lower or higher rocky outcrops stand out. Liguria offers lovers of scuba diving splendid underwater scenarios, with as many as necessary to satisfy all levels of experience. Those attracted by shipwrecks will find satisfaction for the presence of that very famous super tanker Haven, but even those who go snorkelling, equipped with fins and a mask and intend to limit themselves to naturalistic observation of the seabed near the surface of the water.

Along the coastline rocky cliffs alternate with beaches creating a submarine world ideal to host a rich, varied and flourishing flora and fauna. Near the shore with isolated rocks where the outline is more gentle and flatter within the bathymetry of twenty metres one finds meadows of Posidonia oceanica, beyond thirty metres and down to fifty instead one comes across islands of hard substrate, mainly colonised by the typical settlements of Coralligene. The latter are a notable element of value for biodiversity, among the sessile organisms to be pointed out there is the dominating presence of Paramunicea clavata, better known as Red Gorgonian, but besides other species of Gorgonians, there is no lack of Porifera, such as for instance Axinella polypoides and Spongia agaricina. Seaweed and Bryozoans concur in the formation of the calcareous concretions; these rocks give hospitality to the Madreporeians such as the Cladacora cespitosa, Idroides and Molluscs. For what concerns the marine fauna one can very often come across white sea bream, moray eels, octopus, cuttlefish, conger eels, mullet, scorpion fish and numerous other fish that usually live near the seabed. In free water meetings with dentex, pagari (Sparus caeruleostictus) and sea bream are not rare. Then it is very common to see shoals of black and red Castagnolas (Chromis chromis) and Barracuda, an imported species that is now becoming resident throughout the Ligurian Sea.

text and photos by: Adriano Penco photojournalist

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