It’s time to put on the fins

Triton Research is interviewed by L'Osservatore Romano to talk about LIFE PINNA and the importance of Pinna nobilis...

Similar to a large mussel, more commonly known as the ‘nacchera di mare,’ the Pinna nobilis has a shell that exceeds one meter in length, with a rather hard shell covered in encrustations and microorganisms. It can live up to 45 years, developing in depths ranging from 3 to 60 meters in sandy seabeds or among the underwater meadows of Posidonia.

This bivalve plays a fundamental role in the marine ecosystem and is currently critically endangered due to an epidemic caused by a parasitic protozoan of the genus Haplosporidium. This parasite has inflicted severe damage to the digestive tract of these animals, leading to the rapid death of thousands. Hence, the urgent need to take action to protect it, giving rise to the “Life Pinna” project in Italy. The project aims to reduce the risk factors threatening its conservation and initiate an innovative restocking program.

To save the Pinna nobilis first and foremost, explains Stefano Picchi, executive director of Triton Research, it is necessary to identify resistant individuals—those still alive and not lying dead on the seabed. For this, we have expert divers engaged in reconnaissance. Afterward, it is crucial to investigate safer and suitable locations, among the oceanic Posidonia meadows, where reintroducing the animals, ensuring the absence of pathogens. Perhaps most importantly, there is a need to experiment with captive breeding using pioneering procedures never used before, creating nursery-like environments for rearing the offspring. The final phase of the process involves relocating the new mollusks to four pre-selected areas.

The four-year LIFE Pinna project aims not only to protect and monitor the surviving populations but also to recover the species in its reference habitats. Already in the early stages of the project in the Upper Adriatic, several dozen surviving specimens were found. After being genetically analyzed, they are now under constant monitoring. Those most exposed and threatened by human activities have been relocated to safer marine areas or placed in laboratory aquariums, where they grow under protected conditions.


Subscribe to our newsletter to be the first to discover news, events and opportunities related to the world of marine conservation and environmental sustainability.