The Marine Protected Area "Isole Ciclopi", in the territory of Acicastello , dominated by the majestic profile of Etna, the highest active volcano in Europe, was established in 1989, and takes its name from a small archipelago made up of the Lachea Islands , Faraglione grande, Faraglione piccolo and four other large rocks arranged in an arch in front of the town of Acitrezza .
The management of the reserve is entrusted to the consortium "Isole dei Ciclopi", constituted by the Cutgana (University Center for the protection and management of natural environments and agroecosystems) of the University of Catania and the Municipality of Acicastello. The Riviera dei Ciclopi, where the Cyclops Islands Marine Protected Area is set, is famous for the legend has it that the three stacks are the boulders thrown by Polyphemus against the ship of Ulysses who ran away .
In the sea of the Cyclops and in its lava rock bottoms, most of the Mediterranean fish fauna finds place and shelter: colorful sponges and large red stars, sea pike, bream, grouper.
It is possible to discover the colorful colonies of Astroides calycularis, the arborescent Eunicella cavolinii, or collide with the silvery specimens of Seriola dumerili. But close encounters with seahorses and torpedoes cannot be excluded. The sandy bottoms are the kingdom of 'scallop' fish: be careful not to scare them!
In depth it is easy to admire the beautiful fans of the paramuricee, red arborescent colonies that exceed one meter in height and the lobsters with long antennae that emerge from the dens where they find refuge.
With the darkness, the seabed is populated with mysterious creatures but of rare beauty: it is the largest sea anemone in the Mediterranean, the Alicia mirabilis .
For diving lovers , the Cyclops Islands Marine Protected Area has created nine official itineraries. At the center of the marine area stands the imposing Lachea Island , an islet of just seventy hectares which, thanks to its tiny red spot lizard on the neck, the endemic Podarcis sicula cyclopean, became an integral nature reserve back in 1998.
On Lachea Island, managed by Cutgana, the University's interfaculty center, it will be possible to climb to the top and also from the Hermit's Caves , which houses its small endemic spider, the "Zelotes messinai", or the Monk.
On the island it is then possible to explore the small naturalistic museum , rich in historical finds and local fish fauna, and the Marine Biology Laboratory .