HOT Properties Magazine Archive
HOT Attractions - Out of the Blue
A mecca for scuba diving, the Costa del Sol boasts an infinite choice of diving sites from the Straits of Gibraltar in the west, to Nerja in the east. With an abundance of marine life, underwater caves, wrecks and labyrinthine tunnels to discover, plus some of the finest diving clubs and schools in Europe… why not take the plunge!
Report: Carolyn Mowlem – Photography: courtesy of Foto Acuatic
For those lucky enough to live in Southern Spain, the Mediterranean Sea is a major attractions. Providing stunning views at every turn, offering an unequalled range of water sports, and contributing to the privileged microclimate that means you can practice them virtually all year round, it is also a well-stocked larder forming the staple of one of the healthiest and tastiest diets on earth.
But whether you prefer to take a dip in its inviting blue waters, bob across the waves in your dinghy, or go for an exhilarating spin on a jet ski… the sheer wealth of marine flora and fauna leading their own secret life deep beneath the surface is guaranteed to take your breath away.
Lapping the shores of a score of different countries, the Mediterranean is almost totally enclosed, with the Pillars of Hercules a mere 14 kilometres apart. The astounding diversity of its marine life is due to factors both geographical and historical. Known to ancient Romans as Mare Nostrum (Our Sea) it is connected to the Atlantic, the Black Sea, the Sea of Marmara, the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus and, via the Suez Canal, the Red Sea.
Cooler surface water flooding in from the Atlantic is complemented by warmer water lower down infiltrating from the east, so the multitude of fish, sea mammals, molluscs, crustacea, sponges and corals that populate the Sea have the perfect environment whatever their origins. Like us, they also need a comfortable home in which to raise their young, and there’s no shortage of idyllic natural habitats. In addition, given the fact that since ancient times the Mediterranean has been a major route for travellers, merchants and settlers – Phoenicians, Romans, Carthaginians, Moors, Greeks and Egyptians included – there are also wrecks in which the more timid of species can put down roots.
Whether you want to get up close and personal with seahorses shyly hiding in an underwater meadow of sea grass, a conger eel lurking in a submerged Civil War bomber, a 2-ton Sunfish (known as ‘The Gentle Giant’), or trigger fish, star fish, sea squirts, hydroids, flying fish, and turtles, there are more than enough dive sites to keep you enthralled.
One of the most popular areas is the Acantilados de Maro-Cerro Gordo Natural Park between Nerja and La Herradura, east of the city of Málaga. A 12-kilometre stretch of coastline extending one mile out to sea, it’s an ideal site for beginners with masses to see.
But all along the Coast there are plenty of fascinating diving sites nearer home, including ‘The Sierra’, six kilometres west of Estepona; ‘The Marbella Towers’, just 250 metres from the beach; and ‘The Bermeja Tower’, a stone’s throw from Benalmádena. Just about every resort on the Costa del Sol also has its own PADI-authorised dive schools, with professionally trained instructors available.
At a time when the world’s oceans are being depleted by modern fishing fleets, not to mention the propellers of recreational craft and the detritus of Man – notably plastic bags – it’s perhaps never been more important to protect our seas and conserve their invaluable marine life.
The stunning photographs illustrating this feature have been generously contributed by Málaga-based Foto Acuatic, dedicated to promoting the appreciation and conservation of every ocean on the planet and the marine life that inhabits it. Founded in 2005 by photographers Manuel Campillo and Aurelia Artolachipi, in association with Thesign, their fascinating website – www.fotoacuatic.com – was launched in November 2006. Containing stunning photographic galleries featuring underwater flora and fauna from every corner of the world, the images from their gallery can be purchased, while the expert team is available to undertake photographic commissions and reports. They have also created a wide range of initiatives to raise public awareness of the importance of marine conservation, including photographic competitions and projects for schools. Next year, in order to spread the word by reaching a truly international audience, they will be introducing an English language version of their webpage.
“The ocean,” affirms Aurelia Artolachipi, “is the source of all life. Three-quarters of the planet’s surface is covered by sea, and to explore it is a dream come true.”
That dream begins on the Costa del Sol.www.fotoacuatic.com
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