GHAR LAPSI - FEB2020 (58)

The lungs of the sea – Isola Bella Marine Park Taormina, Sicily

The lungs of the sea!

One of the treasures of the Isola Bella Marine Park, Taormina, Sicily. An underwater meadow. Neptune Grass is our hidden gem. When scuba diving, you will find various marine life scurrying between the leaves, from microscopic organisms to the Rainbow Wrasse. Many fish species seek food and refuge, as well as use the safety of the meadow as a suitable place to lay eggs where they can develop safely.

Posidonia Oceania ( scientific name) is a type of seagrass endemic to the Mediterranean sea. It can be found 1 – 35 metres deep, becoming less dense the deeper it sits. It is a species only found in the Mediterranean, covering around 3% of the basin! Unfortunately, it is now in decline due to climate change and human activity.

Known as the lungs of the sea, this is definitely a worrying fact.  It produces around 16 litres of oxygen per day per square metre. A vital element to the Mediterranean ecosystems, regulating CO2 absorption in the sea and in the atmosphere. It also protects from coastal erosion, protecting the beach from the force of wave action, giving stability. Their production of oxygen and organic material provides food for the whole ecosystem.  Its presence always marks a healthy sea so if you notice it in abundance then you know you are swimming in glorious waters!

Although Neptune grass is a strong and sturdy grass, it is subjected to damage too! Especially from human activity. Pleasure boats dropping their anchor in the underwater meadows is one of the most common activities. Not so long ago, the government of the Balearic Islands passed a decree in which vessels are banned from dropping anchors directly or in the vicinity of Neptune grass meadows. Unfortunately, many boats take no notice of this rule.

This is something we at Sea Spirit are fighting for! When diving at the Isola Bella Marine Park we already use anchor lines for several dive sites. Campaigning to encourage more anchor lines to be attached so as anchor release can be discouraged even further! Moreover, to create awareness, the team of Sea Spirit educates its divers and students to take responsibility for our underwater world. The perfect PADI Specialties for this are Project Aware and Dive Against Debris. With these specialties we teach the 10 tips for divers to protect the ocean planet, as well as, how to remove debris from the sea bottom in a safe way. Together with our students, we can identify particular patterns to our local dive sites and share the results on the Project Aware social platform for scientific purposes.

We are one of the lucky dive operations that have the privilege to witness this beautiful grass underwater! Because of this privilege, we take responsibility as a business to take care of the environment we live in, by adopting eco-friendly standards within our centre and encouraging businesses and people around us to do the same.

We get to witness the fish that call the meadow their homes as well as watch the hypnotic way the grass flows back and forth with each movement of the sea. This is just one of the many delights of the Isola Bella. So what are you waiting for! Come dive with us.