I grew up in this sea.
I wore here, in this slice of Tyrrhenian, my first diving fins and my first diving mask.
Hot summers, always behind those who knew the sea, this sea, more than me. To learn, to understand non-written techniques and ancient ways of fishing.
The blue of this sea is magnetic and you would never stop looking at it. It invites you to dive, to dip you and it is precisely in this blue that my passion for apnea was born. Here we challenged with the cousins to those who could reach the seabed, bringing back, as a witness and as a trophy, a fist of sand. Being able to get to the bottom was happiness.
While I head off to Paola, towards a shallow which does raise the seabed between the -80 and the -54 meters, I let myself be cradled by the memories and the scent of the sea which is the heart of the Mediterranean spirit.
Gianni, who was born here and lives here, accompanies me in this adventure. He, as well as being an experienced diver, is a perfect connoisseur of the seabed which immediately collapse already a few hundred meters from the coast.
The shallow is one of those micro systems where fish fauna concentrates, almost like an oasis in the blue desert.
We’re in the late fall, but the climate is still mild. We are taking some dive to explore the area when Gianni scraps and captures an octopus at twenty meters deep to testify that the day is favorable.
When I dive, the water is murky due to seasonal currents but they have the power to attract fish. I arrive at -58 meters without a reference point. The light has dropped and the visibility is reduced, I know I will not have many attempts. But the seabed is a surprise. There is the dark coral that covers the shallow, and even the small starfishes I see are dark and black.
I lie on the bottom looking around me amazed. There are schools of snapper and amberjack. I look at them which move elegantly and lightly like a slow motion. Time is always the greatest enemy and I can not afford distractions at the bottom of the sea.
A dentex passes a few feet beside me, I do not think twice about it and shoot. I have little air in my lungs and so I have to go back to the surface. I’m worried. The fish has put itself between two rocks and the line is jammed, I can’t pull it. The risk of losing it is very high. I still dive. Again to -58.
At the bottom, I take very little time to locate the fish, which is still in motion. I fight frantically with the line in the desperate attempt to free it but there is nothing to do. I have to give up. As soon as I go back to the surface I hear the advice that Gianni gives me: go down again, hit the dagger another time and cut the line.
But the darkness advances and making a third dive at that depth is a risky thing. I decide quickly and dive again. But as soon as I reach the seabed, the snapper is no more!
I don’t know what to think, but I do not have many other options. My disappointment is great and as I raise my head to return to the surface I see passing a school of skipjacks.
They are too far, too fast, but wonderful in their silvery reflections, which, in the low light of the evening, tend to blue. I give a last look around me and incredibly the fish reappears. I don’t know if I have air in the lungs enough to get back to the surface, but it’s just a few feet away from me. I invert the course and shoot at it. Then I quickly come back and finally can breathe to the extreme limit of my strength.
This time I challenged myself and the snapper was that fist of sand which I showed, smiling at my cousins happy and carefree when I was a kid.