Campanella

dive site type: nature
difficulty: difficult
depth range: 15-70 m
distance from the diving center:  13 nm
short characteristic: an underwater mountain with the top at the depth of about 15 m and steep walls densely covered by red sea fans, among which various rare crustaceans and giant scorpionfish can be found

 

Between the islands of Hvar and Vis there is a group of small islets called Pakleni otoci, what in translation to English means Hells’ islands (the word pakleni means hellish). Nevertheless, originally the name has nothing in common with hell and it derives from paklina what means tar. T Years ago there were pine trees which were harvested on the islets years ago and the pine resin which was uses to coat ships. Nowadays the archipelago, with its well-known yacht marina in Palmižana, is a perfect place for sailors, but in numerous peaceful coves interesting dive sites might be found as well. One of them is called Sika od vodnjaka and is located on the eastern part of the westernmost islet of the chain – Vodnjak Veli. However, what is the best is situated outside the archipelago. Close to Vodnjak Veli there is an underwater mountain called Campanella.

The name of the dive site refers to an Italian word campanile, which means a bell tower. It is not a coincidence – shape of the underwater mountain resembles a bell. A peak of the mountain is submerged and it can be found at a depth of more or less 15 m (the highest point is at 13 m BSL, but a big part of the top is dipped to 18 m). Invisible from the surface it is hard to be found, especially when there are high waves on the sea. In such case diving on Campanella requires lots of experience in diving and advanced abilities. The diving starts from the moored boat, and the divers reach the peak of the mountain going down holding the rope. Then they start swimming around the mountain. Sometimes the currents are so strong, that the divers stay on the one side of the mountain only, but usually they manage to swim around.

In the very beginning divers can observe different fishes over the plateau and going deeper they pass yellow sea fans, to reach the red ones starting on the depth of about 30 m. Deeper the red sea fans are bigger and bigger and reach over 1,5 m at the depth of 40 m. Their occurrence results from good oxygenation of water. There are many various organisms living on the sea fans, among which different nudibranches and eggs of catsharks are worth mentioning. Giant scorpionfish, moray eels, spiny lobsters and other crustaceans are hiding between the sea fans. Technical divers can reach here the depth of about 70 m and explore so called little Campanella – another mountain, join to the main one, with the peak at the depth of about 40 m. What is the most interesting for all visitors is a small hole, like a tunnel, in the middle of the island at the depth of 33 m. Divers usually pass it, swimming carefully, no to damage red sea fans growing in on the walls, in direction to the middle of the hole. The comparison of the sizes of the hole and the mountain gives a reason to call the hole an eye of a needle.