Reef diving in Croatia and its beauties
Divers always look for excitement underwater with a wish to see something new. Croatian reef sites are very different from north to south, so each location will charm you with its own particularity. It is well known that every sea has different flora, fauna and species, and Croatian reefs teem with endemic species which you can find only in the Mediterranean Sea. Most of them are threatened with extinction and are protected by law so we try to protect them as much as possible and keep track of their progress. Our reefs are rich with rocky shapes and platforms, steep walls decorated with corals, caves, sandy deserts, sea meadows and much much more.
Also known as seagrass, these amazing plants are real Mediterranean lungs and only one-meter square of the plant can produce 14l of oxygen per day. In the meadows of Posidonia oceanica several hundred algae and animals live, breed, hunt and hide: crabs, cephalopods, shellfish, sponges, ferns, crickets, and several smaller and bigger fishes. Sea meadows grow very slowly, which makes them particularly sensitive, it is one of the oldest species in the biosphere, almost 10 000 years old. Posidonia is a strictly protected species in Croatia, and it is endemic to the Mediterranean Sea. Luckily, the Croatian coast is rich in this amazing plant which is extremely important for the whole underwater life.
Sea sponges feed by draining water through small holes on their body in which they absorb nutrients from the sea, but also the remains of small organisms. After being fed, the sea sponge releases out a clean seawater, that´s why is called the purifier of the sea. One adult sponge can, by feeding, clean up to 2000 liters of water per day. But although sponges are cleaners of the sea, they are very sensitive to contamination. Their disappearing is a sign for alarm. Luckily, Croatian coast has around 250 species of sponges, and they are spreading more and more which shows the purity of water. The real beauty of these sponges hides in their bright colors that make a true “Color festival” in the Croatian sea. Among all sponges, Adriatic coast has a special one called “Fina Dalmata” full of iodine, which makes it a natural antiseptic. It was popular in the days of the ancient Romans, because of its fine micropores which is very gentle to human skin and today is one of the most respected sponges in the cosmetic industry.
The shell contains special threads of which royal clothes were made in the past, so they were harvested in large quantities. They were not harvested only for the purpose of textile production but also because of the size and a special pearl it contains. Luckily, since 1977 it is an absolutely protected species. If a person is caught with it, he will have to pay an enormous fine. Pinna Nobilis is the most known shell in the Adriatic Sea and one of the biggest in the world, it can grow up to 1.5m but the real size of the shell can´t be seen underwater because one-third is hidden in the ground. The noble shell is endemic to the Mediterranean Sea and the entire Croatian coast is inhabited with this fascinating shell.
The name originates from the Greek word “coralion” which mean “daughter of the sea”. In the Adriatic sea are about fifty species of corals and the most famous is the red coral, Corallium Rubrum. The Corallium Rubrum is highly appreciated coral for its beauty and is used in making precious jewelry and other decorative items. Only five divers in Croatia have the permission to collect this coral for further processing. Except for the most common red corals, there are white, pink, and very rare black and blue coral. Most of them, amazing coral reefs, are in the area of Kornati, Vis, Hvar, Lastovo, even they can be found across the whole Croatian coast. Due to very slow growth, only about 4.8 mm per year, corals are very protected species in Croatia. It is located on steep rocky walls from 15 to 150m depth in places where the sea currents are stronger, and the shores of the Adriatic sea favor them in this case.
Seahorses – Hippocampus
Seahorses are for sure one of the most famous creatures. In fact, seahorses are fishes from the Syngnathidae family and they are a symbol of beauty and tenderness. These beautiful creatures are real underwater chameleons, they are changing colors and mimic the marine plants among which they live to hide from the predators. Croatia has two types of seahorses which can grow up to 17cm; unfortunately, for some divers it is impossible to see them, the eye must be well trained to notice them. It is amazing that seahorses are the only species in the world in which males are pregnant and give birth. These beauties are slowly disappearing so they are also one of the strictly protected species in Croatia.