The Bay of Ieranto in July 2020: A Review of the Month

Figure 1. The Bay of Ieranto 2020.

As some of you may already know, the M.A.R.E. 2020 project started late this year, in July to be exact. As soon we, volunteers, arrived in Italy, we immediately rushed to the magnificent Bay of Ieranto and started focusing on project activities because, in this paradise, every minute counts. The same as every year, we started to inform people about the marine park, monitor the boat activity at the bay, take notes about human activity or unusual events. Furthermore, we collect garbage from the sea and the beach, and we try to make sure that wildlife does not come into contact with it. Due to pandemic that we are facing this year, we are making an extra effort to promote the health and safety measures between visitors of the Marine Park of Punta Campanella.

Figure 2. Volunteers separating garbage found on the beach at the Bay of Ieranto.

We are structuring our work based on a management model that focuses on three major actions: monitoring, conservation and spreading awareness. The Bay of Ieranto is a place of general preservation, meaning that our main goal is to protect and keep it alive, while preventing this beautiful place from destruction. Eco friendly activities in the bay, like the ones that you can see listed in the image down below (Figure 3), are always welcomed.

Figure 3. Map of the Marine Park of Punta Campanella and a list of the main restrictions for preservation zones like the Bay of Ieranto (represented in yellow, zone B).

Our aim is to protect the ecosystem of the park, especially Posidonia oceanica, which is a seagrass species, that can be found only in the Mediterranean Sea. It provides food and habitat for other marine organisms and enriches biodiversity. Unfortunately, this species is declining at an alarming rate due to disturbing human activities, such as anchoring.

That being said, let’s see what data, that we collected for 21 working days, tells us about the human activity at the bay! Because of pandemic, the number of people at the bay can’t be greater than 107. With most of them coming to the bay by foot, we had an important task to not only inform everyone about the rational use of face masks and remind of the social distance, but also to make sure that we didn’t exceed the maximum number of people allowed at the bay.

Figure 4. Check point.
Figure 5. Bar chart of the maximum number of people at the Bay of Ieranto in July 2020.

In total, we registered 382 boats entering the Bay of Ieranto from which 34% (130 boats) were authorized and 66% (252) were unauthorized (Figure 6).

Figure 6. Pie charts of the number of authorized and unauthorized boats that entered the bay in July 2020.

We counted 866 people entering the bay on unauthorized boats, from which 136 (15,7%) already knew about the Marine Protected Area. Regardless, we were able to inform around 66,5% of visitors about the area and let them know how they are harming the marine life by entering the bay by boats.

Figure 7. Volunteer in a kayak approaching a boat.

Why couldn’t we reach all of them? Well, in some cases, we believe that some people, already knowing about the rules of the Marine Park, entered the bay just to give a quick look and then left, not giving us time to approach them. Indeed, we understand that this charming bay can have a magical effect on people.

In other occasions, we experienced that some visitors, who entered the bay by authorized boats, helped us by informing about unauthorized ones. In some cases, visitors on unauthorized boats, who already were being approached by the M.A.R.E. team, helped us sending away others entering the bay. We really appreciate their support!

Despite our efforts to protect this wonderful place, there were a few situations, seven to be exact, where people, entering the bay on unauthorised boats, didn’t leave when it was requested. Also, 11 unauthorized boats managed to reach the beach (2,88%), 17 boats anchored (4,45%) and people, coming in three different boats, were able to fish (0,79%). On average, in the month of July, there were 18 boats a day, from which six were authorized and 12 unauthorized. The overall average of time of permanence of the boats without permission on the bay in these 21 days of work was 6 minutes. Finally, in the month of July we counted 4050 visitors entering the bay of Ieranto during our working hours, from which 1233 came from the seaside and 2817 by the path. The majority were Italians.  

Figure 8. Volunteer monitoring at the Bay of Ieranto.

From this data we, without any doubts, can conclude that the presence of the M.A.R.E. team plays a big role on the preservation of the biodiversity of the bay. It doesn’t matter if you come from the sea or land, the Marine Protected Area of Punta Campanella invites you to come and see the most beautiful sights and its hidden biodiversity in an eco-compatible way. So, come and join us – we have some special activities waiting for you!

Ci vediamo!