The monkfish of the Portofino lighthouse

A five-foot-long monkfish rested lazily on a boulder at the Portofino lighthouse. Any dive turns into a memorable and fun day.

The alarm clock and the preparation

There are days that start badly, like this Friday in late April.

I woke up before dawn, as unfortunately often happens lately. I fall asleep late in the evening and, in the morning, well before six, I open my eyes and can’t fall asleep anymore. It must be due to the new lifestyle to which we are obliged, which has completely busted my work cycle. Or it will be simply because I am getting old.

In any case, I decided not to work that morning. Because at 10 I had to be at Style Diving, in San Michele di Pagana for a dive with some friends.

La rana pescatrice del Faro di Portofino la vedi con Style Diving

The night before, I prepared my equipment for video footage. I charged the Go Pro’s headlights and battery.

I calmly got up, made coffee. In the meantime, I assembled the camera inside its diving suit and try the Easydive headlights. Everything worked. I put the under wetsuit and some thermal clothing in a backpack. I got dressed and I was ready to leave the house.

I took a look at my cell phone, especially my work emails. I found an urgent request, I had to solve a major problem. I immediately activated, made a couple of calls and managed to fix it. A sigh of relief, the day was saved. I could finally get out of the house.

I stopped in Rapallo to load diving equipment into the car. I parked the car near the warehouse where I store all my equipment and I realized that I haven’t brought the keys with me.

Fortunately Giorgio, with whom I share the warehouse, was already at the diving center. I got back in the car and run towards San Michele di Pagana to retrieve his set of keys.

In short, I got up very early and thought I had a lot more time to prepare. Instead I reached the limit and found myself forced to assemble quickly.

Ah… I forgot! I thought I had the double tank loaded and instead I was wrong.


Marco Alberti, who together with Elena Colombo manages Style Diving, while he was patiently recharging the double tank, he told me that yesterday, at the Portofino lighthouse, they saw a monkfish. Suddenly my day takes shape. I started dreaming.

I was finally ready. In a moment we were boarding and we loaded all our equipment. Not quite all. But I didn’t want to anticipate anything.

La barca è pronta per andare a vedere la rana pescatrice

The boat left and headed towards the Lighthouse. I was sitting in the stern with my back to the ship’s position. I turned around to realize how much was missing from the mooring. It’s a habit, to understand when it’s time to get ready. When I have to close the zipper of the drysuit and start wearing the equipment. And that’s when I realize I’ve forgotten my Go Pro at the diving center. It is too late to go back. “Holy shit it’s a really shit day.

I began to hope that there was bad visibility and that there was no trace of the monkfish. It would have been a terrible joke!!!

Eccoci al Faro di Portofino. Qui sotto una rana pescatrice sonnecchia.

The immersion

The boat docked, I got ready and dived. I lost the mask, which was slowly descending towards the bottom. “Fuck! It’s really a shit day!!”

La rana pescatrice del Faro di Portofino ci sta aspettando

Marco Aprile, my buddy, and I gave each other the okay and go down. At six meters we did the bubble check and then down to the base. Once at the bottom I decided to move towards the point where, a few minutes earlier, I had entered the water, with the giant’s step. I found my mask. “Well come on, after all it didn’t go so badly”.

We began the dive and went down to the depths. Visibility was acceptable. We crossed the rocky stretch at a depth of 40 meters. The gorgonians awaited us. I found five stars gorgon, beautifully placed on the wonderful branches of red gorgonian.

I proceeded slowly, thinking of writing a post in which to tell that in recent years the number of gorgon stars has definitely increased. I was thinking of looking for a marine biology expert and interviewing him. I want to understand if it is my feeling or there is a scientific basis. I have a lot of photographic material to dress the article. I will do it, keep reading me and sooner or later you will find it on this blog.

We moved towards the ridge that cuts the landslide in front of the lighthouse, to the east. Here the current was strong. Some big snappers passed by, they were hunting and swimming powerful. At one point a big tuna whizzed in front of my eyes. And behind him two others, a little smaller.

It was a wonderful landscape. I enjoyed it, also because if I had had the video camera I certainly would not have been able to immortalize them.

The mockery, atrocious mockery

At this point we began to go up. We arrived at an altitude of about twenty meters. It was time for the gas switch. I was looking for Marco to report it to him and to activate the procedures. And that’s when I saw the beam of his flashlight moving unnaturally. And in that moment I understood.

A monkfish was lazily resting on a boulder. And that’s where I started swearing! And yes, because I usually speak underwater. It is an old habit of mine, I don’t know if others understand me but I speak through the dispenser. And this time I swore at myself to not forget the GoPro.

I cursed myself for a couple of minutes and then finally decided to enjoy the moment. I decided that my eyes were going to be my video camera and that writing would be the only way to convey my emotions.

La rana pescatrice

The monkfish’s eye looked at me curiously. Marco lighted it up, it was blue. Its antenna watched closely. I was struck by how smooth its skin is, it made me want to caress it. I moved to look at it from the front.

La bocca della rana pescatrice

Its mouth is really curious. Its lips were covered with growths, I think they were useful for blending. The teeth were sharp and the jaw was really prominent. Now I focused on its gills and pectoral fins, they were huge. The dorsal ones were small and pointed. Lastly, I looked at its tail, the famous monkfish. It was really great.

La rana pescatrice di Portofino

I decided to take the spool from the pocket of my drysuit and measure its length, making two small knots at both ends of the line. The work is laborious and the monkfish began to show signs of impatience. At a certain point its fins turned into small wings and it slowly rose and began a slow but graceful flight to sink into a place where the two curious divers would no longer be able to bother it. I thought back to my GoPro and how beautiful that shot with the monkfish in flight would have been. The last curse came out of my dispenser. Then we changed gas and began the ascent.

At the diving center we measured the top of the spool. The monkfish measured one meter and thirty…

Later, at my house

I was in my house. I was pissed at myself. I’m not forgiving the forgetfulness. Then I started writing. Words give vent to my anger and this post was born.

And I realized that even a misfortune can give birth to something beautiful. Like this story without photos but with great emotions.

Why are there pictures of the monkfish?

Because browsing on Facebook I discovered that someone else was cursing for the same reason. Or rather, for much less.

Alfonso “Fofò” Sabella of Diving Evolution had a camera but no flashes.

Altre beffe della rana pescatrice

I immediately called Andrea Galliadi of Diving Evolution. I told him my experience and asked him the courtesy to borrow the photos.

Well in short these pictures are his, they are without flash, but if I had made them I would be really proud!!!


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