Egadi Islands Marine Protected Area

Egadi Islands Marine Protected Area

The marine protected area includes the limestone islands of Favignana (the largest, with an area of 33 sq. km.), Marettimo and Levanzo, the small islands Formica and the rocks Maraone and Porcelli...
The Egadi Archipelago is located about 8 km from the west coast of Sicily, separated from it by seabed depths of no more than 50 meters, except for Marettimo, the most distant, whose seabed reaches a depth of 320 meters. The geological nature of the archipelago and the characteristics of the land flora highlight the close affiliation with the western coast of Sicily.

It is characterized by a barren, sun-drenched landscape with rugged, jagged coastlines, cliffs, clefts, and sea caves. The northern end of the island of Favignana is marked by Punta Faraglione (34 m high overhanging the sea). From here begins the northwest coast, the most inaccessible on the island, dominated by Gross Mountain on whose flank caves and coves open up. But Favignana's only real mountain is the Mount that bisects the island and at the top of which stands the Fort of Santa Caterina, built in the 12th century.

Marettimo Island, on the other hand, presents very high, dolomitic rocks on the West Coast, overlooking a transparent sea, where small coves and caves alternate. Walking along the sometimes impervious and steep paths of the island, one discovers the peculiarities of Marettimo's flora, which has numerous plant species (about 500 have been reviewed), some of which are absent in the rest of Sicily. This makes Marettimo a kind of botanical sanctuary. The coastal seabed of the Egadi Islands is mainly rocky, but there is no shortage of sandy areas from the disintegration of existing tuffaceous rocks. Vegetation in these seabeds consists in the first few meters of the seabed of photophilic organisms such as brown seaweed, so-called peacock tail, and sea umbrella.

Deeper down, colonies of sponges are found on rock walls. At gradually increasing bathymetries, where the rocky seafloor gives way to the sandy one, Posidonia oceanica grows luxuriantly, which, however, is present, albeit not continuously, along the coasts of all the islands. In some cases, Posidonia, thanks to the transparency of the waters in this area, grows even at depths greater than 40 meters. Coralligenous coral dominates the seabed beyond 30-40 m depth, where red and yellow gorgonians and the uncommon black coral develop alongside red coral. Although the Egadi Islands (particularly Favignana) have been known for tuna, tuna nets and slaughter for centuries, the archipelago presents the entire rich sampling of Mediterranean flora and fauna.

In terms of fauna, lobsters are common in the deeper areas, while cephalopod mollusks are numerous among the rocks and Posidonia. Another common species in these seabeds is the nacchera, the largest bivalve mollusk in the Mediterranean, a protected species because it is endangered. Beyond a depth of 40 meters, a liophilous coralligenous layer develops on which animals such as Bryozoans, Annelids, Madreporaria find a home. Among the fauna, a very rare bird, the Bonelli's eagle, should be mentioned.

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