Black Coral Islands

Isole Tremiti,Italia

Black Coral Islands

As seen from the coast of Gargano, the Tremiti Islands almost give the impression of floating dancers in the middle of the sea. Even on the clearest of days, these islands which are located at the southern tip of the country in Apulia, you can see the two major islands of the archipelago – San Dominio and San Nicola. Both seem to want to stretch to towards each other, far enough to perhaps eventually touch.

Our tour starts at the small harbor of San Domino: with a boat ride around the rocky ridges just overlooking the water. Here is where we will find the Grotta del Bue Marino, which is more than 70 meters deep, and the Grotta delle Viole, which takes its name from the particular color of the calcareous algae that draw the profile of the walls. Admire the alternation of coves and inlets that, from time to time uncover the beauty of the soft white sand of the stunning Spiaggia dei Pagliai Beach.

The beauties of Nature are no less interesting than those of History and San Nicola, in particular, is famous for combining the two. Its imposing Abbey of Santa Maria a Mare is positioned in such a way that it almost feels like it guarding the island and its seabed. We start our exploration from the town square, with our backpacks on and water bottle in hand, and climb along the narrow streets of the village with scents of lemon and Aleppo pine emanating from the nearby homes.

It is not surprising that this corner of the Mediterranean is also an area known for its ??epic tales and legends. The Tremiti Islands were known as the burial place of the Greek hero Diomedes in ancient times, along with other heroes of the Trojan War. Just as Ulysses plowed the shores of the Tyrrhenian Sea called by the mythic Sirens nestled on the rocks of the current Sorrento Peninsula, Diomedes too found his refuge here after years of bloody battles. Nature, History and Legend intertwine to tell the unique and evocative life of this Archipelago which, in addition to the views visible from the mainland, offer hidden treasures beneath the surface of the water.

Snorkeling and diving enthusiasts are in paradise on these islands. The seabed is rich in marine flora and fauna, among which the precious and very rare Black Coral stands out. The creation of the colonies is almost like being in front of an underwater forest with a unique habitat of its own. The Black Coral is, instead, a protected animal species that embellishes the seabed and welcomes a unique biodiversity in the world. All that can be seen with the naked eye on the land is only the visible point of a naturalistic treasure that the Tremiti Islands preserve - and protect - in their most hidden corners, up to two hundred meters deep.

This wonder of Mother Nature is in need of protection from poachers which is why the University of Bari’s Department of Biology has launched a research project of the Black Coral, directed by National Geographic researcher and explorer Giovanni Chimienti. This exploration makes utilizes modern technologies such as the ROV (Remotly Operated Vehicle), a vehicle driven by a control cabin placed on boats and capable of providing researchers with important information on the presence of possible Black Coral forests located at a depth otherwise unreachable. As of now, only small colonies have so far been found off the coast of Tremiti. The discovery of an entire forest would open great scenarios for scientific research and the conservation of local biodiversity.

The research findings which were financed by National Geographic, was documented by Chimienti himself in "The Hidden Treasure of the Tremiti Islands", the first documentary produced exclusively for the web and available as of April 1 on

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#National Geographic