The shoals of Tor Paterno, the only italian marine protected park fully submerged, is located along the Roman coast, at a distance between 4 and 7 nautical miles from the beaches of Ostia and Torvaianica, not far from the Presidential Estate of Capocotta and Castel Porziano. The marine park can be reached using one of the diving centres based on the Marina of Ostia or on the Canale dei Pescatori (Fishermen’s Canal).
Consisting of a large rock formation and covered by a surprising amount of animal and plant life, the Tor Paterno Shoals represent a real island at the bottom of the Tyrrhenian Sea, whose summit reaches 18 meters below sea level, while the maximum depth touches the least 60 meters.
With an extension of over 1200 hectares, the Protected Marine park of the of Tor Paterno Shoals was established on November 29, 2000 by the Ministry of the Environment, which then entrusted its management to RomaNatura, the Regional Authority that deals with the administration of 14 parks within the Municipality of Rome.
From the naturalistic point of view the summit of the rocky bank is populated by the Posidonia oceanica, present here up to about 25 meters deep, while, more in depth, leave close relatives of the coral, such as the beautiful red Gorgonia, the rare black Coral and the Alcionari, difficult to find elsewhere. Among the many fish there are, among others, the moray eel, the gronco, the mullet, the monkfish, the bass, the mullet, the look, the bream, the sunfish, the sea eagle and the grouper. On the surface, especially in some periods, it is not difficult to encounter dolphins, while, for birdwatchers, it is possible to spot gannets, shearwaters, sandwich terns, gulls and jaegers.
Scuba divers can dive in the marine park of the Tor Paterno Shoals by contacting one of the diving centers registered in the Marine Protected Area register. The rotation between the areas where mooring and diving are permitted guarantees a limited impact on the environment.
For those who do not have the possibility to dive, in Summer excursions are organized with barges that allow the “virtual” visit of the seabed thanks to the images provided by a camera carried by a diver and transmitted live on a screen onboard of the boat.
Estratto da: S. Lorenzatti (a cura di), Ostia. Storia, ambiente, itinerari, Roma 2007