Larnaca on the south coast of Cyprus might have the Zenobia wreck, one of the biggest diver attractions in the Mediterranean, but it is still working to diversify and lift its dive-tourism levels.
The latest initiative is the sinking of 60 clay amphoras near the LEF1 wreck to help attract more fish to the Oroklini Marine Protected Area (MPA). Another 30 pots are set to be added later.
The pot placement was carried out by volunteers from Viking Divers, Zenobia Divers and Undersea World-Scuba Diving. The operation was overseen by the Department of Fisheries & Marine Research supported by the Ministry of Tourism.
As elsewhere in the world, diving tourist numbers fell in Cyprus as a result of the coronavirus pandemic but Larnaca Tourism Development & Promotion Company head Dinos Lefkaritis said: “I believe that tourism will start to recover and with it diving, especially in Larnaca, which attracts several thousands every year.”
Larnaca had created a large-scale artificial reef in the MPA shortly before the pandemic, in December 2019, when the 15m LEF1 and also the 63m boat Elpida were sunk at a depth of 13m about 1km off the coast, as reported on Divernet.
Marine life since attracted to the area is said to include grouper, wrasse, damselfish, mullet, seahorses and occasionally turtles.
The environmentally friendly 50-60cm pots, created locally, are an addition to this reef area. The Fisheries Department said that any action that added value for divers and increased the amount of hard substrate in the sandy MPA was important, especially in Larnaca. It is hoped that the amphoras will improve biodiversity by attracting more species of fish, cephalopods and shellfish.