Piattaforma Paguro: a reef off the coasts of Ravenna
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There’s a story about a patch of coast in front of the beaches of Ravenna that I am sure not many of you knows. It’s a tragic story that took place some 50 years ago, when in the far 1965, the methane platform Paguro, after a violent explosion, disappeared in the waters of the Adriatic Sea.
From that moment on, the Paguro started its metamorphosis and on its structure, devastated theatre of death, little by little started new life, turning this site in one of the most important centres of marine biology in the Adriatic, first and only marine site to be selected as a Site of Community Importance in the Emilia Romagna region (2010).
But let’s start from the very beginning, from 1963.
12°34’57″E and 44°23’4” N: these are the coordinates, the latitude, and longitude, where you would have found Paguro today, 11 km from the coast of Ravenna. In this area, between 1962 and 1963, the platform Paguro was launched. Together with its colleague and “twin”, the Perro Negro, it was conceived as a moving platform of AGIP for drilling the oil well and extract gas in the waters of the Adriatic Sea.
Everything was proceeding as planned, at least until 28 September 1965. Moved to a new site – the PC7 (Porto Corsini 7): a dozen miles from the mouth of the rivers Fiumi Uniti, during the drilling something irreparable happened.
At first fluid erupted, which would have been easily confinable and staunched, but almost immediately one of the walls of the oil well collapsed. As the platform had been moved, an underlying unexpected gas field containing highly pressurized gas had been damaged.
Remedial actions would have been useless. In little time, the platform completely collapsed, in a cloud of gas and water and in a few hours an unrelenting chain effect made it sink into the sea.
The accident claimed the lives of three Agip technicians (geologist Arturo Biagini, electrician Bernardo Gervasoni and worker Pietro Perri), creating also a crater that brought the surrounding bottom from -27 m to -33 m.
50 years later, the wreck is still there, but it has become something completely new, something different and unique for the Adriatic Sea. The sea, with its vital force, subsumed this gigantic construction, turning it into a new home for many animal and plant species.
In 1991, to the already lying rests have been added other metal objects coming from the dismantlement of other six Eni platforms, enlarging this big complex, which has become a reference point for all the divers and marine biology enthusiasts today.
Thousands of fish species of every kind found here their home, turning the spot into a hub of biodiversity and life. You might meet the fried egg jellyfish, the biggest of the Mediterranean, but also many Homarus lobsters and European lobsters, squat lobsters and congers of any size.
If you go deeper down, you may see enormous schools of oily fish, bogues, mackerels, pilchards, bonitos, grey mullets, European basses, corbs, greater amberjacks and even some dolphin that went there to find some food. On the structures covered by mussels and oysters, spinous spider crabs stand out while flirting or laying eggs; sponge crabs, millions of colourful combtooth blennies hiding behind sea urchins and bright nudibranchs.
Associazione Paguro was created near the area in 1995 to preserve, protect and enhance the wreck, as well as regulate the sportif, educational and scientific divings.
It is a special place a few kilometres distance from the Adriatic Coast that waits but to be discovered if you enjoy diving.
The platform has become today an important reference point among the natural and artificial reefs of the Adriatic within the European project Adrireef, whose prime objective is to encourage and improve the reefs of the Adriatic through innovative Blue Economy business models as well as promote scientific research related to these places.
Do you know…
… This area was paid homage with a dedicated series of “underwater” wines, the wines of Tenuta del Paguro: in fact, a wine farm chose the Adriatic sea to place its wines 30 m deep in its waters for their ageing.