Creature Feature

Creature Feature – Saving Sea Life with Sculptures

Posted by  //  May 2, 2023  //  Articles, Creature Feature

Along a stretch of the Tuscan coast, an Italian fisherman named Paolo Fanciulli is protecting the region’s marine life by sinking marble statues in the sea.  For over 40 years, Fanciulli has made a living fishing off the coast of Tuscany.  In the late 1980s, he began observing signs of illegal trawling.  The poachers were devastating the ecosystem as well as Fanciulli’s livelihood as they carelessly dragged heavily weighted nets that ripped away plant and marine life.  The trawlers were rewarded with burgeoning catches while simultaneously stripping the sea bed of life. 

To deter the illegal activity, Fanciulli began sinking enormous stone sculptures along the seabed to prevent the nets from scraping the bottom.  While other authorities have used sunken structures in various coastal areas to revive flagging marine populations, Casa dei Pesci, or “House of Fish,” is Fanciulli’s own labor of love.  His efforts are paying off, as illegal trawling has ceased in the area, fish numbers are increasing, and more marine life is returning to the waters including lobsters and sea turtles [photo].

While protecting sea life, the 39 different fifteen-ton marble statues carved by talented sculptors create a fantastical underwater park reminiscent of an ancient, submerged city.  Another dozen are currently being sculpted, and Fanciulli also plans to include large replicas of Roman urns in the House of Fish.  

Article by Margie Manthey
Photo from Wikimedia Commons

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