Scuba diving in the Mediterranean

Living not far from the south coast of France we regularly stare out across the azur Mediterranean and wonder where, in this idyllic looking environment, is the best place to scuba dive. There is scuba diving where we live, out of the Bay of St.Tropez, etc. but the islands, Porquerolles and Port Cros, are much more interesting.

Port-Cros has been a National Park since 1963 and the entire island is strictly protected (no cars or bikes) including the sea where there is a magnificent variety of marine life including seaweeds, sea urchins, sponges and grasses, and fish including damsel fish, octopus,moray eels, cardinal fish and rascasse. Swimmers and divers can follow a planned route to see the underwater spectacle.

However, when the east wind blows (which is not often) the sea is dirty and not an inviting environment to don your fins, mask, regulator and bottle. So where else can you go?

Now the Med is quite a big sea –

File:Mediterranean Sea political map-en.svg

With no fewer than 21 countries sharing the Med as part of their coastline and many thousands of islands there must be some good places but don’t forget those 21 countries empty into the Med and there is only the 9 mile gap between Morocco and Spain where the sea can drain in and out of the Atlantic. The Med is in effect landlocked and therefore a good flush of clean water is not going to happen. It has an average depth of 1,500 metres and at its deepest point in the Ionian sea (which is between southern Italy and Greece)  it is 5,267 metres.

Where to go – we are researching the subject because our daughter is returning from Boracay where she has been learning to dive and wants to continue her diving education in the Mediterranean this summer. Now Boracay is in the Philippines – warm waters, coral and plentiful marine life. We think the Mediterranean may prove somewhat disappointing after Boracay…….time will tell. Due to the salinity and water temperatures the Med cannot support coral and therefore the marine life is limited.

Our research has come up with some of the better dive sites to visit in the Med – over the next few days we shall try to give you the best – often rated number 1 is the Zenobia , a huge wreck just off the coast of Cyprus at Larnaca.

The Zenobia

The pristine wreck of a huge roll on, roll off ferry which lies in 40 m of water just outside Larnaca harbour in Cyprus.  You reach the wreck at about 15 m which then goes all the way down to 42 m. Fabulous, fabulous dive. Probably the best shipwreck dive in the world at recreational depths. There are some great swim-throughs and you need many dives to see anything like all of it.

The Zenobia is a 178 metre long ferry that went down in 1980 with over 100 large vehicles onboard, giving this dive plenty of exploration.  The ship lies on its port side.  Visibility is usually quite good; some days it stretches to 35m.  Experienced divers can penetrate the wreck to see the interior, including two trucks still hanging upside down from their chains, but visibility can drop drastically in the confined spaces.

The ships engine room is also spectacular but it is difficult to find and you need to be a competent diver to reach this destination

Though the wreck is the main attraction, triggerfish, barracuda and enormous grouper can also be spotted here.

The video from sirelak gives a good representation of what the dive is about.

We shall continue with this series over the next few days.


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