Meet a wetland: the Laguna di Nora (Pula, Sardinia)

There is a place located in the municipality of Pula (Southwestern Sardinia) that deserves to be visited at least once. This is the Nora Lagoon (Laguna di Nora), a wetland where interesting activities are carried out by the Center of Environmental Education and Cetacean/Sea Turtle Rescue (CEAS-CRTM Nora).

Visiting Pula is attractive not only for its beautiful sea, beaches, and picturesque landscapes. There is much more behind this site. It was already known by the local civilization of the Nuragic people who settled these areas from around 1,300 BC, and later by Phoenicians, Carthaginians and Romans. From an environmental point of view, the Laguna di Nora has been already included within the EU Site of Community Importance (ITB042216) for the presence of habitats and species of high conservation interest. Within this context, it was therefore natural to develop the Center of Environmental Education and Cetacean/Sea Turtle Rescue (CEAS-CRTM Nora).


The Laguna di Nora (Pula, Sardinia). Photo credit: CEAS-CRTM Nora


The Laguna di Nora is two kilometers from the municipality of Pula (southwestern Sardinia, Italy) and it has a surface of 37.6 hectares, located behind the beach of the same name and the important ruins of the ancient city of Nora.

The lagoon includes the branched system of channels and little islands that characterize the mouth of its river, the Rio Arrieras, and it is separated from the sea by the Fradis Minoris peninsula, a geological formation known as the Tyrrhenian Bench, rich in fossil inclusions.

The Peninsula was settled by the ancient civilization of Nuragic people (approx. 1,300 BC) and later used, in the Punic and Roman times, as a quarry for the extraction of material for the construction of the city of Nora, an important center founded by Phoenicians (1st century BC) and then maintained, until its maximum splendor, during the Roman empire (AD 1st and 2nd centuries).


A panoramic view of the lagoon and the ancient Roman city of Nora. Photo credit: Gianni Alvito


Now it is covered with lush Mediterranean vegetation and other flora species typical of brackish wetlands. Of particular interest are the high representativeness of the habitats of community importance – 1110: Sandbanks which are slightly covered by sea water all the time, 1150*: Coastal lagoons, and 1550*: Mediterranean salt steppes (Limonietalia). Plant species worthy of mention include Limonium carisae, a species exclusive to this specific area, Cymodocea nodosa, Cressa cretica, Malva lusitanica subsp. lusitanica, and Nigella arvensis subsp. glaucescens.


Malva lusitanica. Photo credit: Gianluigi Bacchetta


Among bryophytes, the presence of the critically endangered Riella notarisii is the most significant. The Laguna di Nora is also home to numerous species of birds, including the rare Audouin’s Gull (Larus audouinii), which is the only Mediterranean endemic bird belonging to the genus Larus. The estuarine side of the lagoon is the main nesting site of this species in Italy.

In this context, Giuseppe Ollano and his collaborators have been working since 1985 to give new life to this important site by educational activities for anyone who would be interested in visiting them, but with special regard to younger generations. Among the personnel of the Center of Environmental Education and Cetacean/Sea Turtle Rescue (CEAS-CRTM Nora), there are also biologists and expert divers for the rescue and rehabilitation of injured cetaceans and turtles.


The Center of Environmental Education and CetaceanSea Turtle Rescue (CEAS-CRTM Nora). Photo credit CEAS-CRTM Nora


A rewarding experience is the canoeing excursion, which permits visitors to have a perfect perspective of the lagoon, as well as the accompanied snorkeling excursion around the neighboring coast of Nora. It is also possible to visit the museum, the aquarium and the rescue center, where turtles and other sea species are rehabilitated before being released back to the sea.

Last but not least, the Center studies the best sustainable fishing practices through the involvement of local fishermen for a traditional use of the Lagoon’s resources, carried out with the boats and tools used in typical Sardinian lagoons. An interesting meal prepared by specialized chefs could perfectly close the visit by tasting the creative use of local essences in the seafood recipes. Both essences and seafood are strictly from Nora.


Educational activities for children in the Center of Environmental Education and Cetacean/Sea Turtle Rescue (CEAS-CRTM Nora). Photo credit: CEAS-CRTM Nora


Visiting the Laguna of Nora is an experience that will be hard to forget. Kids, and not only kids, will finally leave the Center with a more informed viewpoint, recognizing the high value of well-preserved wetlands and the rich biodiversity hosted therein. The Center is an exceptional laboratory of ideas of how environmental conservation, education programs, and sustainable economy can coexist towards a synergistically amelioration of our life style.


A turtle being released back into the sea. Photo credit CEAS-CRTM Nora


More information

Visit the website of the lagoon (in Italian).
Facebook page of the lagoon.
Read more about the Lagoon (in English):

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Laguna di Nora Loc. Nora – Pula

Daniela Fadda, project manager
+39 070 9209544