asino bianco e piccolo
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Marine flora and fauna

The morphological differences that characterize the two sides of Asinara Island result in a high variety of macro and micro habitats, which is reflected in the associated biological component.
In particular, the limited depth and slope of the eastern seabed and the meteo-marine characteristics of this slope favor the development of extensive and well-structured Posidonia oceanica meadows, which are the typical elements of this part of the island.
Posidonia is a plant endemic to the Mediterranean Sea, consisting of long ribbon-like leaves gathered in bundles. The young, central leaves are characterized by a light green coloration, while the older leaves take on dark green and brownish shades. The rhizomes are deeply intertwined and form special structures called matte, which may exhibit by the effect of current, channels and other special morphologies. In this way, seagrasses present a key role against coastal erosion by stabilizing the inconsistent seabed and limiting wave action through the leaf apparatus and the barrier effect of matte.
The size and structure of posidonia beds are considered indicators of the quality of coastal systems because of their sensitivity to impacts generated by various anthropogenic activities (pollution, coastal erosion, increased turbidity, mechanical action due to fishing and anchoring).
Grasslands represent biocoenoses with high biodiversity, in which various benthic and nectonic species, including some of considerable economic and naturalistic interest, feed, grow and reproduce.
At the rhizome level, communities typical of deeper environments can be found, most frequently encountering holothurians, sea stars and the bivalve Pinna nobilis (a species of community interest and the subject of specific studies by the Park). Communities framed in the pre-coralligenic are established near the lower prairie boundary. As for the associated ichthyofauna, several species can be found, including seahorses, pipefish, wrasses, bream, salps, bream, bogue, and mullet.
In terms of distribution, the prairie shows a considerable extension in the area between the Rada dei Fornelli and Punta Sabina, up to the bathymetry of about 35 m for an area of about 15 square kilometers, representing one of the most important posidonia in the Mediterranean basin. On the western slope, posidonia is locally present between Punta Tumbarino and Porto Manno della Reale to a maximum depth of 30-40 m.
The grassland appears to be in excellent condition overall and does not generally show signs of obvious degradation, although there is evidence in portions, albeit spatially limited, of regression due to over-anchoring and areas where trawl furrows can be seen.
The general state of well-being of posidonia meadows in Asinara is also evidenced by the analysis of its structure, the periodic presence of flowers and fruits, and the high values of leaf density.
Species of particular naturalistic significance are found on the island: the red seaweed Lithophyllum lichenoides and the giant limpet Patella ferruginea. The former, included in the red list of species to be protected, is in steep decline in many areas of the Mediterranean being remarkably sensitive to pollution. Patella ferruginea is also a highly threatened species, mainly due to excessive anthropogenic harvesting. Here the stands of Patella ferruginea are found to be in good condition and often composed of individuals of considerable size (up to 10 cm wide).
Surveys in the Punta dello Scorno area have shown at depths greater than 70 m a stand of Laminaria rodriguezii, a rare Mediterranean paleoendemism with considerable economic importance as a habitat for numerous species of commercial interest.
The animal species found along the rocky seabed are those typical of reefs.
Among them, some play a special role in fishing activities, as in the case of corvina, snapper, bream, sea bass, redfish, and several species of wrasses. The lobster(Palinurus elephas) can be found in the adult phase at depths between 15 and 100 m in rocky ravines and at shallower depths in the juvenile phase, during which it can also be observed in posidonia meadows.
The presence, along the northern coast, of sizeable specimens of brown grouper has also been found at shallower depths than those at which these organisms can be observed in unprotected areas. Also of significance is the presence of the sea grasshopper or magnosa(Scyllarides latus), which has been listed as a species to be protected because it is highly threatened by indiscriminate harvesting. The presence of these and other species, such as moray eels, conger eels, and octopuses, in relatively abundant and undisturbed populations, as well as the variety and richness of benthic communities, certainly constitute reasons for the enhancement of the island’s seabed, but also a significant potential for sustainable enjoyment of the underwater environment.
Finally, the presence in the waters facing the island of Asinara of bottlenose dolphins and other cetaceans, including minke whales and sperm whales, should be noted, which has resulted in the inclusion of the Asinara Sea within the international project for the conservation of the pelagic fauna of the Mediterranean, called the Cetacean Sanctuary.

For Asinara, the marine environment constitutes an element of particular value and scientific interest and is substantially characterized by a high integrity and diversity of floro-faunal communities, a remarkable landscape value, and excellent water quality in terms of ecology and chemical contamination.

The movements of the sea

Along the western side of the island, the surface circulation exhibits a marked seasonality: during winter the currents have a northeast to southwest direction and carry water masses from the west coast of Corsica, while in summer their motion is reversed. Within the Gulf of Asinara, the currents tend to move according to an hourly circulation that appears most pronounced in westerly winds, and to arrange themselves parallel to the coastline, particularly in the marine belt close to the shore. In the presence of southwesterly winds, the currents near the coast have a significant component in a direction perpendicular to it toward the open sea, resulting in vertical water movement of the deeper waters of the gulf.
The data collected by the Air Force over the course of 32 years from the station located near Punta Scorno, although referring to a period that is not recent, allow us to define a general picture of the state of the sea on the island of Asinara.
According to these data, the sea at Asinara is nearly calm on 20 percent of days and slightly rough one day out of two. However, for 25 percent of the days the sea à very rough. During the period between May and September, sea conditions appear more favorable for navigation (particularly in the summer months), while the winter months are characterized by more severe sea states.
By virtue of the considerable exposure to westerly and northwesterly winds, the seas on the western side and northern cape of the island occur more frequently in states that are not favorable for navigation. The eastern side of the island, facing the Gulf of Asinara, is more protected and accessible, here are located the landing points among which the Reale pier is the least exposed to easterly winds. At present, the marinas of Cala d’Oliva and Fornelli, although sheltered from westerly winds, suffer most from exposure to easterly and sirocco winds.
Within the gulf, based on maximum wave height data recorded by the oceanographic buoy located in the Gulf of Asinara at Porto Torres during June 2000 to April 2001, waves rarely exceed one meter.

Water quality

The waters surrounding the island of Asinara are generally of high quality, as indicated by the remarkable transparency and low concentrations of anthropogenic impact indicator compounds or elements, to which corresponds a remarkable integrity of biological communities.
In the summer period, the water column appears vertically stratified, with maximum temperature differences of about 6 °C and surface temperature reaching as high as 26 °C in August. In winter the opposite process takes place, with a water temperature of 17°C in December.
Similarly, salinity, which, however, has a more limited time range, increases its values in summer.
In summer, the value of dissolved oxygen in the water also increases: this enrichment is probably related to the metabolism of the posidonia prairie that can provide the system with a large supply in terms of oxygen, which due to summer thermal stratification remains more localized on the bottom.
The trophic state of the water, measured by the combination of some parameters (chlorophyll, dissolved oxygen, total phosphorus and dissolved inorganic nitrogen), indicates high water quality and absence of significant alterations.

The morphology of the seabed

The seabed on the two sides of the island has profoundly different characteristics.
The open sea side is characterized by slopes with considerable steepness that continue in the submerged part and rapidly sink more than 50 m even a short distance from the coast. Strong currents and considerable mistral wave action prevent the formation of significant sandy deposits and shape the coastline with ravines, gullies and rifts. A cave of significant size is located at Cala di Peppe, set at sea level at a depth of about 8 m and a height at the entrance of about 10 m.
The eastern side is generally characterized by low, mostly rocky and sometimes entirely sandy coastlines. The seabed toward the gulf, taking up the morphology of the emerged part, tends to slope gently to the typical average depth of the Gulf of Asinara, which is about 50 meters.
The area between Punta Scorno and Punta Sabina has intermediate characteristics between those typical of the two slopes. The sea floor appears uneven as a result of frequent outcropping of the rocky substrate.
In the area between Cala d’Oliva and Punta Trabuccato, and particularly in the Rada della Reale, the seabed is predominantly sandy and hosts extensive and intact Posidonia oceanica meadows. Further offshore, around the 50 m bathymetric, the substrate consists of sediment and organogenic detritus.


Apogon imberbis (mullet king or cardinalfish)

Atherina spp.

Balistes capriscus (triggerfish)

Aidablennius sphynx (sphynx blenny)
Parablennius gattoruggine (rust blenny)
Parablennius incognitus (Mediterranean blenny)
Parablennius rouxi (white blenny)
Parablennius sanguinolentus (blood blenny)
Parablennius zvonimiri (bavosa cervina )

Bothus podas (kidney turbot)

Seriola dumerili (amberjack)
Trachinotus ovatus (starfish)

Spicara flexuosa (menola)
Spicara maena (menola)
Spicara smaris (zerro)

Clinitrachus argentatus (seaweed bavosella)

Conger conger (conger eel)

Coriphaena hippurus (cavallina coryphena or lampuga)

Engraulis encrasicolus (anchovy or anchovies)

Gobius bucchichi (raspy goby)
Gobius cobitis (big-headed goby)
Gobius cruentatus (redmouth goby )
Gobius paganellus (paganellus goby)

Lepadogaster spp.

Coris julis (damsel)
Labrus merula (blackbird thrush or blackwing)
Labrus viridis (marvizzo thrush or green thrush)
Labrus mixtus (whistle thrush)
Symphodus mediterraneus (redwing)
Symphodus melanocercus (black-tailed thrush)
Symphodus ocellatus (ocellated thrush)
Symphodus roissali (green thrush)
Symphodus tinca (peacock thrush)
Symphodus rostratus (musk thrush)
Symphodus cinereus (gray thrush)
Thalassoma pavo (peacock damsel)

Dicentrarchus labrax (sea bass)

Liza aurata (golden mullet)
Mugil cephalus (mullet)
Oedalechilus labeo (Lobster mullet)

Mullus surmuletus (red mullet)

Muraena helena (Mediterranean moray eel)

Phycis phycis (white musdea)

Chromis chromis (chestnut)

Sciaena umbra (corvina)

Sarda sarda (bonito)

Scorpaena notata (scorpionfish)
Scorpaena porcus (black scorpionfish or brown scorpionfish)
Scorpaena scrofa (red scorpionfish)

Anthias anthias (red chestnut)
Epinephelus costae (golden grouper)
Epinephelus marginatus (brown grouper)
Serranus cabrilla (perchia)
Serranus scriba (sciarrano or serrano scribe)

Boops boops (boga)
Dentex dentex (snapper)
Diplodus annularis (sparlotto or sparaglione)
Diplodus puntazzo (sharpsnout bream)
Diplodus sargus (greater sargus)
Diplodus vulgaris (banded seabream)
Lithognathus mormyrus (murmora)
Oblada melanura (look)
Sarpa salpa (salpa)
Sparus aurata (sea bream)
Spondylosoma cantharus (cantara or tanuta)

Sphyraena sphyraena (pike)
Sphyraena viridensis (Mediterranean barracuda)

Tripterygion tripteronotus (hot pepper)
Tripterygion delaisi (yellow chili pepper )
Tripterygion melanurus minor (chili minor)

Dasyatis parsnip (trigon or common parsnip)

Torpedo mormorata (marbled torpedo)

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