One of the most interesting dives on the northern coast of the Island of Elba, between Capo Sant’Andrea and Punta della Zanca, ideal for divers qualified for deep diving.
The Zanca Ants.
The Formiche della Zanca take their name from a series of small outcropping rocks which in their submerged part give life to very scenic backdrops.
Beginning of October 2020. The arrival of autumn brought with it, as usual, intense rains, wind and heavy storms. During the night a violent downpour flooded the Island of Elba. Fortunately this morning the sky is blue and, although it is cool, it promises a day of respite. I will finally be able to dive.
I arrived by car from Portoferraio in Marciana Marina early in the morning to calmly prepare my equipment. It took me some time to assemble the rebreather and set it up. I leaned on a table outside the structure of the diving center that was hosting us.
I was at the Elba Diving, a historic diving center on the Island of Elba, a stone’s throw from the port of Marciana Marina. Its location is strategic, it has ample parking and a beautiful outdoor area perfect for the preparation of my rEvo. It is managed by a dear friend of diving, Fabio Agostinelli, who has always been surrounded by an efficient and friendly staff. There were all the right ingredients for a beautiful dive.
Unfortunately, as soon as we passed the breakwater of the port, I realized that the sea had not decided to grant us the same respite that the rain had given us. Long and persistent waves.
Underwater the visibility was not the best and I also found a lot of current.
From the scrapbook
So I’ll tell you about the Zanca Ants dive, drawing from the album of my memories. It was, perhaps, June a few years ago. I wasn’t using rEvo yet and I’m pretty sure I had a nice bi cylinder on my shoulders. If my memory serves me correctly, I remember diving into a landslide and following a long sand gully, swimming to the north east, among boulders covered with yellow and orange sponges. At a depth of about 20 meters, the landslide began to leave room for some large rocks which, forming a wall, sank into the very light sand, at a depth even greater than 40 meters. Deep diving begins in this area.
Keeping the wall on my left, I began my scuba dive among magnificent fans of red gorgonians on which white bryozoans were deposited. I also remember a small gorgon star that covered a yellow gorgonian.
The gorgon stars, which for years have been the subject of desires for my underwater photographs, continue to be my favorite encounter while diving.
Between the cracks in the rocks large and threatening moray eels, many lobsters and a few suspicious conger eels peeked out.
Obviously, the flabelline, red, blue and purple, were not lacking.
The change in altitude, for the ascent, as often happens, instead gave me an encounter with the fish. In addition to the inevitable groupers, this dive was characterized by the almost constant presence of snapper, sea bream and barracuda.
As usual, I had decided to spend the time on my ascent chasing the silver barracuda shoals in an attempt to follow their whirling circular dance as well. The few times that I managed, during the dive, to fit in without letting them disperse and to follow their rhythm, I really felt part of the underwater world.
Again October 2020
But now I want to go back to the present, to today’s dive that, despite the poor visibility, the strong current and the very rough sea, during the ascent gave me the opportunity to meet, in a very close way, a beautiful amberjack, large size, who swam quietly and curiously on the landslide a few meters from the buoy chain that indicates the point of my ascent.
I saw, a few meters above me, a gray mass that was painfully distinguished from the dull blue of today’s sea. I approached it intrigued, I hoped it was a tuna, but knowing full well that the meeting would be a fleeting moment. And instead I saw her, peaceful, it almost intrigued by me. I tried to get closer by dragging myself between the spikes of the rocks, there was some current. It remained there, against the tide, powerful. I made a few more meters while struggling. I almost went in front of it. I was struggling, and instead, it remained still and motionless. We looked into her eyes for a moment. I thought, let me take the GoPro and take a video. Then I was afraid of making some rash movements and scare it.
And I decided to admire it and enjoy the moment. My fleeting moment with the amberjack during a dive at Formiche della Zanca.