The city of Groupers: Lavezzi

The city of Groupers: Lavezzi


One mile east of the island of Lavezzi, in the middle of Bocche di Bonifacio strait (the sea channel which  divides Sardinia from Corsica), we find a diving spot named: the  City of Groupers and known in all the Mediterranean Sea for the constant presence of many brown Groupers (Epinephelus guaza), which are very friendly to follow divers for whole lasting of the dive. This strange behavior, definitely not natural, is due to the fact that about 12 years ago, divers use to  feed  Groupers,  and they still associate divers to food.  Fortunately, the French marine Park, "Archipelago of Lavezzi" first, and subsequently the international one named International Park Bocche di Bonifacio, have forbidden its practice thus trying to restore a more natural behavior and replace the predatory nature of the Brown Groupers (Epinephelus guaza).The establishment of these Marine Parks and the following installation on the site of  buoys for anchoring, allowed the rebirth of the Red Gorgonias (Paramuricea clavata) which,  had been significantly damaged by the anchorage practice of the boats that came on the Shoal. After this small premise, I would like to tell  about the dive in the City of Groupers in a slightly different way than the ordinary; I am going to tell you about one experience I made a day at the end of August 2016.The weather conditions were not perfect, I remember a cloudy sky! Fortunately the wind did not exceed 7/8 knots and the swell did not bother us that much during the navigation we did in the middle of the Strait of the Bocche di Bonifacio on the way to Lavezzi. On that day we were a group of seven divers divided into two groups all divers with good experience. Arrived near the dive spot "the City of the Groupers" we didn't find any other diving boat, so once we had the briefing and the pre-dive checks we started to get into the water immediately.I started the dive along the rope of the buoy due to the presence of a slight current, and with great regret we did not see the shadow of even a grouper. As usual I swam along the main rock  with all my group of divers, then towards the second rock, crossing the sandy channel that divides them, to go to spot the light to the completely open branches (with all the polyps outside) of the red Gorgonias (Paramuricea clavata) . Stuck between the gorgonias and the rocks, sheltered from prying eyes, we began to observe some brown groupers (Epinephelu guaza) and Corb (Sciaena umbra) which offered excellent ideas for lovers of underwater photographs.Continuing along the wall of this second rock, we saw in the blue a lot of "mangianza" (a school of little fish), composed essentially of Bogues (Bops bops) - and Picarels (Spicara maena). From the intense blue we recognized some Snappers (Dentex dentex) that frantically threw themselves into the fray trying to catch some prey. … Suddenly  Snappers,  moved away from the fish-pond and so we saw gigantic shadows, which threw themselves like torpedoes on the shoal of fish. Then,the total calm and the dark shadows ….disappeared among the rocks. But what about Groupers?I stopped with all the other divers  we found a hiding place behind a rock at a depth of 25 meters. There we could not disturb the marine life around us. From there we could observe,  brown Groupers in predatory act . They showed us all their power and speed, moving with impressive energy all their mass towards the fish stall. Satisfied by this show, we began to finn towards the lowest rock to get back to the boat, when in the distance we saw a lot of brown groupers (all young specimens with dimensions clearly smaller than the previous ones) that were intrigued by our presence to swim towards us.Did you know that during their vital growth, at around 10 or 12 years, the brown Grouper changes sex from female to male (in biology this phenomenon is called protogynous hermaphroditism)?We ended the dive going back to admire and photograph some pink-colored tube sponges (Mediterranean Haliclona) situated ona rock completely covered with Parazoanthus. By now it was time to start the ascent but not before being surrounded by a small bank of Barracudas (Sphyraena sphyraena). All together around the rope of the buoy we were did our safety stop at 5 meters, completely satisfied by all that the Mediterranean Sea had shown us….

  • Snapper
  • Red Gorgonias
  • City of Groupers
  • International Park Bocche di Bonifacio
  • corals and sponges
  • Barracuda
  • dive sardinia
  • marine life
  • Diving
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