Navigating diversity: From Ulysses's monsters to sea science

Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn

Life is born from water, but water is also home to the unknown. From Scylla to the Kraken, to sirens, man in his collective imagination has populated it with monstrous and disturbing creatures. In reality, the marine space has been and still is the protagonist of events of war, slavery, of broken lives of those who were and still are looking only for hope. Braudel writes: "Throughout the whole Mediterranean man is hunted, locked up, sold, tortured, and there he knows all the miseries, horrors, and sanctities of the universes of concentration camps." Scientific research reveals the unknown of the abysses and captures what is "different from oneself" by converting everything into knowledge: immortal jellyfish, flashing squids, the citri (underwater springs) of Taranto, the Venetian salt marshes. Thanks to knowledge, Ulysses goes beyond the columns, to investigate without succumbing; Shakespeare's Prospero abandons magic; Caliban guides and frees the spirit Ariel, recognizing thus the vital importance and beauty of biodiversity, which is to be safeguarded.