Marine Protected Area of the Lachea Isle and the Cyclops Rocks
The natural reserve “Lachea Isle and Cyclop Rocks”
The natural reserve “Lachea Isle and Cyclop Rocks” was established in 1989 in order to “preserve and protect the seaweed vegetation, flora and the fauna of the waterfront and the sub littoral zone, and in order to preserve the endemic Siculian Cyclops lizard Lacerta, Taddei”.
The Reserve includes the Lachea Isles the Cyclops Rocks (faraglioni) and a series of little cliffs of volcanic origin dating back to the first eruptive activities of the volcano Etna.
The Lachea Isle, composed mainly of basaltic rocks in several places topped by metamorphosed Pleistocene clays, is the largest of the Cyclops Islands, and it is of volcanic origin linked to the first submarine eruptions in the Gulf of Acitrezza, dating back some 500.000 years ago.
According to the legend, the origin is due to rocks thrown by Polyphemus against the Ulysess’ ship-None.
In addition to the portion of the emerged islands, the protected area includes the strip of sea that goes from the waterfront to the sub littoral.
The archipelago of the Cyclops is a site of great interest both naturalistic and archaeological, in fact in the Lachea Isle was also found evidence of human presence dating back to prehistoric times.
In 1896 the Senator of the Kingdom Luigi Gravina granted the right of use of the superior part of the Island and the seven adjacent rocks to scientific studies and experiments to the Rector of the University of Catania.
Thus, it was born a small but valuable ichthyic museum in1998, it was established the Integral Natural Reserve managed by the CUTGANA.
The wealth of the fauna of the Cyclops sea bed is due to the presence of numerous fish and all the groups of invertebrates that can be seen a few meters deep and it is possible to admire Parablennius, Sarpa Salpa and mullets, while among the rocks of the sea bed is easy to distinguish colonies of Hydrozoans, Red Ascidians, the Worm dog and silver breams.
Towards the 15, 20 metres is common the yellow Gorgonian. In addition, it is possible to admire arborescent colonies of polyps that may be extended beyond a metre of height, but among all those who stand for its uniqueness and beauty, is Alicia mirabilis, the largest anemone of the Mediterranean Sea.
In the sea of the Cyclops and in its sea bed of lava rock finds place and shelter much of the fish-fauna of the Mediterranean, colourful sponges and large red stars, sea pike, bream and grouper.
It is possible to discover the colourful Astroides Calycularis colonies, the arborescent Eunicella cavolinii, or just clash with the silver specimens of Seriola dumerili.
But we cannot exclude the possible close encounters with seahorses and torpedoes. The sandy sea beds are the kingdom of fishes ‘comb’: beware not to scare them!
In depth is easy to admire the beautiful fans of paramuricee, red arborescent colonies that exceed the length of one metre and the lobsters with a long antennae protruding from the burrow in which they find refuge.
With darkness the sea bed is occupied by mysterious creatures, mysterious but of a rear beauty.
Is the biggest anemone of the Mediterranean, Alicia mirabilis. For the lovers of diving, the Cyclops Marine Protected area has produced nine official itineraries.
At the centre of the marina stands the imposing Lachea Isle, an islet of only seven hectares, which, thanks to the red lizards with red spots in its neck, the endemic Podarcis sicula ciclopica, it has become an integral Natural Reserve in 1998.
Instead, the presence of Rombo among the vertebrates is frequent. The
fauna of the Lachea Isles is rather varied and it includes animal groups that bear the adverse environmental conditions. Among the numerous invertebrates we find the Zelotes Messinai, a spider endemic to Sicily, and the Urozelotes mysticus only known for the Lachea Isle.
Vertebrates are represented by some mammals Reptiles Rodents and a few lizards, the latter include the exclusive presence of the endemic lizard Podarcis
There is a higher number of bird species that we can
occasionally meet on the Lachea Isle, such as the marsh harrier, peregrine
falcon and even waders.
Few species use the Isle as nesting place, among them there is the Spanish sparrow and the Straumerla. The Isle also offers refuge to the Mediterranean gull, black-headed gull and the cormorant.
The flora of the Lachea is essentially composed of selected plants by the recent presence of man or linked to a substrate rich in salts for the closeness of the sea.
Significant is the presence of some endemic species distributed in Sicily and southern Italy, such squalidus Senecio, Heliotropium Bocconea, Carlina
hispanica ssp. globosa.
In the Lachea Isle, run by Cutgana, Inter-Universiy Centre, will be possible to climb the summit and also the Hermit Caves that host their little endemic spider, “Zelotes messinai” or the Monk.
In the Isle it is possible to explore the small Naturalistic Museum, rich of antiquities and the ichthyic local fauna, and the laboratory of the Marine Biology.
C.U.T.G.A.N.A - University Centre for the Protection and Management of the Natural environments and the Agro-ecosystems.
Via Androne 81, 95124 Catania, tel.095.312104 - fax095.7306052
e-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org - http://www.cutganambiente.it/