Since restoration efforts have began it is now possible to see the rare Mediterranean monk seal. The clear waters of the protected space have enticed this creature to the area, with sightings first recorded of its resurgence in 2013. The Mediterranean monk seal is regarded as the world’s rarest subspecies of seal. The endangered species grows to an average size of 2.4 metres and usually weighs between 300-320 kg. When females are pregnant they will typically use hard to reach undersea caves to give birth, of which the Aegadian islands host many. To be honest it is rare that this animal is spotted though not unheard of, though that all adds to the excitement of seeing one.
The Aegadian Islands have an age-old relationship with the local population of dolphins, often accompanying fisherman as they set out to make their catch of the day in hopes of grabbing a bite themselves. Since the protection of the area their population has grown in number they and are spotted more and more frequently, out with their young each year. The dolphins are energetic and playful, attracting tourists and becoming synonymous with the islands. The dolphins live in groups and can be seen out together, seeing them living freely, darting under the waves and leaping from the water is truly a magnificent site and surely enough to put a smile on anyone’s face.
For those that prefer to delve a little deeper perhaps you’d like to spot a moray eel. There are a wide variety of these eels in existence. The smallest of these is the likely Snyder’s moray, which grows to a maximum length of 11.5 cm. Compare that to longest species, the slender giant moray eel, which can grow to roughly 4 m long. They also come in a variety of colours, some an earthy brown, some with black and white stripes and some even in a fluorescent blue. An eel’s long and flexible shape allows it to enter narrow crevices so prepare to find them in all sorts of unexpected places.
Along with the lush meadows of seagrass, corals can be found beneath these waves. Corals typically live compacted together in colonies that consist of many identical but individual polyps. This group includes reef builders, these are important as they produce the calcium carbonate which forms a hard structural “skeleton”. Much like Posidonia, corals are an integral part of the underwater ecosystem. They provide shelter, protection and food to an underwater community, hosting a wide variety of different species making it a perfect viewing spot for any diver. Not only this but the corals themselves are fascinating to see, they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and usually in bright beguiling colours. Seeing these beneath the crystal clear waters is almost like something out of a dream, if you’re scuba diving you’ll certainly not want to miss this natural wonder and see all the other creatures inhabiting these beautiful and mysterious depths.