Site details

(lookup in gazetteer)
Flag of Italy
5 stars - Fully protected as a national park or Natura 2000 site by national legislation
Normal Focal Site

Map type: Google Maps  SVG (dynamic)  Image (static)

Porto Cesareo; a view of the coast line. Photo: P Bolognini

Synoptic description of site:

Porto Cesareo is a Marine Protected Area since 1997. It is a small village on a rocky and sandy shore characterized by very different habitats.

Extensive description of site:

Porto Cesareo, on the Ionian coast of the Mediterranean Sea, has a surface of about 1,800 hectares comprising very different habitats from rocky shores to salt marshes, with assemblages of particular interest. It has been a Marine Protected Area since 1997.

Habitats present:
Seagrass bedsX

Description of fauna and flora:

The Marine Biology Station of Porto Cesareo was founded forty years ago. The fauna, flora, morphology and geology of the shore are very well documented, and a detailed cartography of the area is also available.

Human impact:

No sources of pollution have been detected, either industrial or of agricultural origin. Artisanal fishing by trammel-net is prevalent and date-mussel fisheries are also widespread. This illegal fishery has devastating impact on sublittoral benthos and has been thoroughly studied in the last ten years.


The Marine Biology and Zoology Laboratory of the University of Lecce, and the Marine Biology Station of Porto Cesareo offer all kinds of facilities: a diving center, a research boat, equipped laboratories and dormatories that are available for visiting researchers.

Available database and website:

A CD-ROM on the benthic species collected in that area is available. It was created to facilitate an underwater visual census with pictures and descriptions of about 250 species.

Commitment and ongoing research:

The Laboratory of Zoology of the Lecce University and the Istituto Talassografico di Taranto of the National Research Council carry out several research programs along this stretch of coast. Recently, this Marine Protected Area is under investigation in the framework of a two-year EU funded project (AFRODITE) aimed at studying the Italian marine reserves and their effectiveness.

Additional Information:

Biocoenotic map available as hard copy.