La Grotta del Fico (The Cave of the Fig)

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Sailing northwards, about a mile away from the beach of “Mudaloru”, is the “Grotta del Fico”, which opens out of the limestone cliff at about 10 metres above sea level. Explored for the first time in the sixties by cavers of the “Pius XI Group” (an association founded by the caver priest Father Antonio Furreddu, who initiated caving in Sardinia), the same group that participated in the first exploration of the chasm of Golgo, the Grotta del Fico was opened to the public in August 2003. When the cave was explored by the “Pius XI Group”, the entrance to the cavity was guarded by a magnificent fig tree that gave its name to the cave. Unfortunately, the tree was swept away by a landslide in the eighties and now the only testimony of its past presence and the long roots that cross the main room, facing the entrance. Father Furreddu, together with the ''Speleological Union of Bologna”, returned inside the “Grotta del Fico” several times, mainly because being an expert on the monk seal (which disappeared from these waters in the eighties), he realised that the cavity was now one of the last remaining refuges of the typical Mediterranean pinniped. During an expedition in December 1971, Father Furreddu closely monitored the demographic situation of monk seals in the area, coming to the conclusion that there were no more than 5 or 6 specimens left along the coastline. “The sea conditions on this latest three- day monitoring expedition - noted Furreddu - caused us some problems, becoming prohibitive on the 30th [of December], thereby preventing the supply boat from mooring. However, this same day recorded the highest number of seals in the cave, reaching a total of 6 simultaneously for about ten hours (...)”. The caver priest was able to study the seals from up close because they were regular visitors to a hall in the cave linked to the outside by a tube a dozen metres in length, the entrance to which is located 10 metres below sea level. The “Hall of seals” can safely be seen from above during guided tours that the “Baunei Speleological Society” organises every day from May to October. The “signatures” of the first explorations carried out by the “Pius XI Group” and the “Speleological Union of Bologna” are still legible along the main ramification. Some ramifications that are still closed to the public and are only accessible to those who are adequately equipped, can be visited by appointment.