Porto Cesareo Marine Protected Area, Gulf of Taranto, South Italy

Porto Cesareo is one of the 30 Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in Italy. It is found off the coast of Salento, in southern Italy.

Porto Cesareo’s coastline contains lots of forests and many geological formations.

The sea at Porto Cesareo is very warm and the species found here are similar to those in sub-tropical areas. There are more than ten different marine habitats in the area including corals and caves. Posidonia oceanica meadows and sea sponges are often found on the sea floor.

  • Scorpaena scrofa. © Marine Protected Areas of Torre Guaceto and Porto Cesareo

Some very rare and beautiful species are also found here. These include multicolored nudibranches, Loggerhead sea turtles Caretta caretta, and the immortal jellyfish Turritopsis nutricula. The threatened species Date Mussels (Lithophaga lithofaga) also lives on the rocky shore of Porto Cesareo.

  • Muraena Helena. © Marine Protected Areas of
    Torre Guaceto and Porto Cesareo

A submerged archaeological site is also present in the MPA. The remains of a ship wreck and five huge marble columns now play the role of an artificial reef and are covered with organisms, including green algae and sponges.

Awareness has been raised for the protection of both the inland and marine environment of the area and illegal fishing of Date mussels has been controlled since 1971. The local authorities are responsible for the protection of the area.