Marine Protected Area
Marine Protected Area of Cinque Terre and the Cetaceans’ Sanctuary
The rich waters of the Cinque Terre protected marine area, and of all the Ligurian Sea Cetacean Sanctuary – which was established on 25 November 1999 1999 -, constitute a very important biological habitat, so abounding in nutritious elements that can be compared to the Atlantic Ocean.
Marine life is rich and varied. This is due to a favourable system of sea currents that provides vertical water movements lifting the nutrients from the seafloor, and to the action of winter winds that spreads the nutrients all over the water column.
For all these reasons every summer almost 2000 fin whales and common minke whales, and thousands of other marine mammals – dolphins, Cuvier’s beaked whales, sperm whales -, gather in the Ligurian-Provencal basin, which includes Cinque Terre, seeking food before winter.
The Cetacean Sanctuary
The Sanctuary was established in 1999, thanks to the collaboration between France (Cote d’Azur and Corsica), the Principality of Monaco, and Italy (Liguria, Tuscany and northern Sardinia).
The agreement was later ratified by the Italian government with the law no. 391/2001.
The Sanctuary is included in the list of the Barcelona Convention’s Specially Protected Areas and is therefore recognised by all the Mediterranean countries.
These trans-boundary waters, extended for 100.000 square Kilometres, are characterised by some peculiar environmental conditions that permitted the creation of a food chain favourable for marine mammals.
The number of cetaceans in the Sanctuary is estimated to be around one thousand of fin whales, 30-40.000 of striped dolphins, common bottlenose dolphins and short-beaked common dolphins, plus several other species such as Risso’s dolphins, sperm whales, Cuvier’s beaked whales, long-finned pilot whales, and sometimes common minke whales, which find here good conditions for nutrition and reproduction.
Such a high number of marine mammals in the Ligurian Sea needs an appropriate safeguard of the habitat; this task is carried out by the protected areas overlooking this portion of Tyrrhenian Sea, including the Cinque Terre PMA, that will regulate the activities potentially detrimental for cetaceans, like navigation, fishing and tourism.