Earth from Space: Strait of ecological significance

6 May 2011

This Envisat image features the Strait of Bonifacio that is renowned for its rich biodiversity, complex physical configuration and difficult weather conditions.

The strait, located between the French island of Corsica (top) and the Italian island of Sardinia, divides the Tyrrhenian Sea (right) from the western Mediterranean Sea.

It is home to outstanding marine biodiversity and environments that are threatened by a high concentration of international shipping.

Only 11 km wide, the narrow strait is prone to sudden gusts of wind that influence the weather and sea conditions. Its difficult meteorological conditions and the fact that it is dotted with reefs and other obstacles make it a vulnerable area for maritime accidents and pollution.

To reduce the probability of environmental risks, Italy and France have regulated the maritime traffic and strictly control and monitor commercial shipping in the area. There are also a number of established natural reserves, including the International Marine Park of the Bouches de Bonifacio.

This image was created by combining three Envisat Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar acquisitions (19 April, 1 March and 18 February) over the same area. The colours result from changes in the surface between acquisitions.

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