The enchanting marine world of theKingdom of Neptune Marine Protected Area, the largest in Campania, will leave explorers breathless, due to the phenomena of volcanism in the area and the fascinating presence in this corner of the sea of all Mediterranean species, home to cetaceans and many other marine life.
The uniqueness of this place convinced Anton Dohrn, a German scholar and friend of Charles Darwin, to establish his studies between Naples and Ischia and to build the world’s first Institute of Marine Biology here in 1872. In fact, the Marine Protected Area not only enjoys an exceptional variety of environments in which related fish species live, but is also at the center of migratory flows of squid and squid and all species of bluefish and small tunnids.
The Kingdom of Netturo is the largest area of the Marine Protected Area of Campania, established by Ministerial Decree 12/27/2007, and pursues the environmental protection, protection and enhancement of the sea surrounding the islands of Ischia, Procida and Vivara, the latter formerly a State Nature Reserve established by Ministerial Decree 06/24/2002.
Its incredible richness lies in its particular geographical position on the climatic boundary that divides the northern area of the Mediterranean from the southern area: the Phlegraean archipelago is actually at the northern end of the expansion area of species that colonize the southern Mediterranean and at the southern end of the expansion area of species that prefer colder climates.
Contributing to the uniqueness of these waters is the absolute variety of environments, in particular, areas of coralligenous with incredible red algae formations, madrepores and banks of red coral(Corallium rubrum) still in excellent condition found along some deep cliffs. Characteristic of Ischia is the “false black coral” Gerardia savalia, found along the ridge of the tower of Sant’Angelo.
Also found here on the borders is the extraordinary Posidonia oceanica prairie, one of the most extensive prairies in the Mediterranean, which surrounds for about 1,600 Ha the islands and particularly Ischia. The presence of this habitat of priority interest under the European Directive 92/43/EEC “Habitat” was one of the key reasons for the establishment of the Marine Area. Sandy and rocky shoals and cave systems that can be explored by scuba diving, such as the Secca delle Formiche of Vivara, can also be observed here.
The northward extension, known as the “Cuma Canyon,” about two miles wide, is intended to protect the cetaceans in the Marine Protected Area, such as dolphins, whales and sperm whales that usually frequent this stretch of sea. In particular, the presence of the “common dolphin” Delphinus delphis, an endangered species, is monitored. This area since 2017 has been included in the Important Marine Mammal Areas (IMMAs) of Ischia and Ventotene by the IUCN (The International Union for Conservation of Nature). Due to their geo-morphological complexity, the seabed of the Marine Protected Area has been the subject of scientific studies for many years.
Volcanism in the area still manifests itself through intense hydrothermal activity, both on land and at sea, but also through cold gaseous emission phenomena. The peculiarity of submerged carbon dioxide emissions (CO2 Vents) make these areas “natural laboratories” for studying the problem of adaptation of individual species to marine acidification.