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Wednesday, 26 June 2013

The Mediterranean Sea, I see!!!

Having lived in Cyprus now for quite some time, it always amazes me that so many of its visitors aren't even aware that it is in the Mediterranean Sea.

Cyprus is in the Leventine sea in the mediterraneanEven more so, we were at a quiz night at one of the local bars in Protaras and one of the questions
was "In which sea can you find the Island of Cyprus?". At which there were many panicked looks on the faces of quite a few ex-pats, who couldn't for the life of them, remember where they now lived.

So for all of you reading this, I thought I would give you a bit more information about the Mediterranean Sea and the Island of Cyprus because actually, it is quite interesting.

IN THE BEGINNING...

God made Man..

Oops, no we don't have to go back quite that far but we are looking at more than 5 million years ago.

When the continental plates shifted and the Red Sea was formed, the basin where we now find the Mediterranean sea became land-locked and several times over the following millenia, the basin flooded and evaporated again as the Earth's Crust shifted, leaving salty marshes and desert in its wake.

Then around 5 million years ago came the worst flood known. Some believe this deluge was caused by a cataclysmic Earthquake that opened the Gibraltar Sill. Water from the Atlantic was able to breach the mountain ranges that joined Africa and Europe and filled the basin up.

Over 2 years, the level of the Mediterranean sea rose by more than 10m per day and in total, it is said that the whole basin took 100 years to fill.

THE SEA WAS BORN
the mediterranean sea was formed from the atlantic flloding the basin

Hence the Mediterranean Sea came to be. So named from the Latin "Mediterraneus" which means "in
the middle of the Land".

Not actually one sea, the Mediterranean is made up of several smaller seas, such as; the Aegean, the Ionian, the Levantine Sea etc.

It stretches from the Straits of Gibraltar to the coast of Turkey, Syria and Israel and has an average depth of 1,500metres. The deepest recorded depth is 5,267m in the Calypso Deep in the Ionian Sea, 45 miles south west of Pylos, Greece.

The Med links the three continents of Europe, Africa and Asia and the temperatures never drop below 10 degrees Centigrade. It is complex and diverse in all aspects; Geologically, historically and with regards to Climate.

The major threat to the Mediterranean sea is man's influence. Building, pollution and over fishing all play there part in man's intrusion on this body of water and the life you can find there.

In fact the mediterranean sea is one of the world's most threatened seas and currently, its saving grace is the continuous flow of water from the Atlantic Ocean.

Water from the Atlantic Ocean flows into the Mediterranean Sea. This is cooler water and, as it flows eastwards, the water warms and evaporates leaving the denser, saltier water, which then sinks in the Levantine Sea, around Cyprus and circulates West to spill over the Straits of Gibraltar.

White Arrows show water movement from Atlantic into Mediterranean.
Grey arrows represent denser, saltier water movement Westward out of the Med.

As a result of this cycle of water movement, we have less plankton in the Mediterranean Sea, meaning less sea life (plankton is at the bottom of the food chain) but we have clearer waters. You can expect 30-50metres visibility in the sea around Cyprus.

So that is a bit of information about the sea which surrounds our little Island. I hope you have found it interesting and maybe, it has raised a few more questions.

Was this flood that created the Mediterranean Sea the basis for the Floods that appear in all religions around the world such as Noah etc?

How does this flow of water from different areas affect the marine life living in the mediterranean sea? Not only do we have this influx of water from the Atlantic but the Suez Canal has also opened up a route from the Red Sea to the Med and there have been sightings of exotics such as lionfish and triggerfish, that are not native to this region, which surely must have an impact!

As Divers we can be the first to spot these changes and report to our local fisheries department to keep a track of what is happening in our sea and by knowing a little more about it we can, hopefully help to save this delicate ecosystem before it is too late.