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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Pelagie Islands

Pelagie Islands, Isole Pelagie, Ìsuli Pilaggî, from the Greek pélagos - πέλαγος meaning "open sea", are the three small islands of Lampedusa, Linosa, and Lampione, located in the Mediterranean Sea between Malta and Tunisia, south of Sicily. To the northwest lie the island of Pantelleria and the Strait of Sicily. Geographically the archipelago are part of the African continent; politically and administratively the islands fall within the Sicilian province of Agrigento and represent the southernmost part of Italy.
Despite pockets of agriculture, the islands are unnaturally barren due to wanton deforestation and the disappearance of the native olive groves, juniper and carob plantations. Fifty years ago much of the landscape was farmland bounded by dry stone walls but today, the local economy is based on fishing - sponge fishing and canning - supplemented by tourism in Lampedusa.

Marine protected area
Of particular ecological concern in the islands is the protection of the Loggerhead Turtle (Caretta caretta) which is endangered throughout the Mediterranean as a result of its nesting sites being taken over by tourism. In Italy the beaches of Pozzolana di Ponente on Linosa and Isola dei conigli on Lampedusa are the last remaining sites where the turtle regularly lays its eggs. The Area Marina Protetta Isole Pelagie nature reserve, covering all three islands, was instituted in 2002.

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