This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

For travelers, southern Italy just got even more appealing: The country’s first coral reef has been discovered off the coast of Puglia, near the seaside town of Monopoli.

Researchers at the University of Bari, led by department director Giuseppe Corriero, discovered the extremely rare mesophotic (meaning it can exist in low light) coral reef, which reportedly stretches at least 1.5 miles. It’s even possible that the reef extends along the entire coast.

This discovery is a surprise, since most marine scientists believed that reefs in the Mediterranean were extinct. But this one was hiding between 98 and 150 feet below the surface, according to a scientific report published by the researchers in the journal Nature.

The coral in this reef is rare because it grows in colder waters and dim light, where most coral can’t survive. Because of the depth and light, the colors of the reef are more subtle. There are reefs in the Red Sea that share some of the qualities of the mesophotic reef, such as a stonier type of coral with little color.

A thriving coral reef in the Red Sea, Egypt. (Photo via Getty Images)
A thriving coral reef in the Red Sea, Egypt. (Photo via Getty Images)

Corriero explained to The Guardian that reefs rise much closer to the surface in places such as Australia or the Maldives as sunlight helps these ecosystems to thrive, so he was excited to make such a massive discovery in the Mediterranean. “In the early 1990s I worked as a marine biologist in the Maldives. But I never thought I’d find a coral reef, 30 years later, a stone’s throw from my house,” he said.

According to La Gazetta del Mezzogiorno (a prominent newspaper in southern Italy), Puglia’s city council plans to assign the reef a protected marine area status. The environmental councilor of Puglia, Giovanni Stea, told the local news site, Bari Today, “The reef area represents a habitat for many species and marine organisms . . . It’s necessary to preserve it with the collaboration of the institutions, the citizens and the sea workers.”

This will likely include creating a model of sustainable development that prohibits damaging activities such as fishing around the reef.

Tourism bureaus in the region did not immediately respond to a request for additional information about the new reef.

Featured photo of Monopoli, Italy via Getty Images.

Know before you go.

News and deals straight to your inbox every day.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

WELCOME OFFER: 60,000 Points Terms Apply.


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: Delta Sky Club and Centurion lounge access, $200 annual airline fee credit and up to $200 in Uber credits annually

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on
  • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.