There was a time in Lampedusa when everyone fished and sold sea sponges.
For decades, Spongia officinalis, the scientific name, has been subject to intense fishing in the waters off Lampedusa.
The boats left Lampedusa for the sponge reefs in mid-May and didn’t return until late summer.
It was a local resource for years, ending only with the advent of synthetic sponges.
Today natural sponge is a niche product, random, as fishing it is prohibited. Its presence in the Mediterranean has now decreased dramatically, so much so, that it is an endangered species and protected by international conventions.
However, it is still possible to find rare specimens in the markets, caught accidentally in trawl nets.
Rabbit Island (Isola dei Conigli)
Rabbit Island, the symbol of Lampedusa, is a small uninhabited island near the homonymous beach, famous around the world for the transparency and colour of the sea that surrounds it.
There are no longer rabbits on Rabbit Island, but its natural beauty of the past remains and it is also the undisputed kingdom of the yellow-legged gull.
The entire island has been a nature reserve since the 1980s, while the sea is part of the Pelagie Islands Marine Protected Area that was established in 2002.