Marine Life in Croatia: Mediterranean Monk Seals off Hvar Island
At least 7 Mediterranean monk seals are living in the Adriatic, with new sightings near the islands of Korcula, Solta and Hvar, says Jasna Antolovic
More information about the whereabouts of the rare Mediterranean Monk Seal was revealed in a lecture by Jasna Antolovic, head of the Zagreb-based Mediterranean Monk Seal association, during a lecture on the island of Hvar, according to a report inSlobodna Dalmacija on October 16, 2011.
Mediterranean Monk Seal Lecture on Hvar
The lecture, entitled U potrazi za morskim covikom (In search of the sea man) took place at the library in Hvar Town as part of the Croatian Book Club, and was well attended by locals interested to learn more about the rare marine life.
According to Antolovic, the Mediterranean monk seal (sea man) was first recorded in 1779, after the discovery of carcasses at Osor on the island of Cres, further up the Croatian coast. The global population is thought to be only 350. They exist in small isolated groups, and are ranked among the ten most endangered species in the world. Rare footage of a monk seal was taken in June this year, again off the island of Cres.
Monk Seal Sightings in the Adriatic
The monk seal has been protected in the Adriatic since 1935, according to Antolovic, with mandatory fines of 100,000 kuna ($20,000) for killing seals.
Antolovic's organisation has been researching and exploring 74 caves since 1994, as was shown in a short video. Their conclusions from their extensive research are that there are at least seven seals living off Kamenjak in Istria, the Losinj-Cres archipelago and parts of the central and southern Adriatic.
Increased public awareness through education has led to a heightened interest in the seals, with some ten reported sightings in the waters around the island of Hvar, the most recent coming from Solta, Korcula and Podgora. These will all be investigated by the association shortly.
Regular Dolphin Sightings off Hvar
The island of Hvar has a rich marine life, and scuba-diving is one of the more popular water activities for its many tourists. Visitors are often pleasantly surprised by the sight of dolphins swimming close to its shores, with regular sightings in the Hvar Channel between the island and Brac.
The most high-profile dolphin sighting in recent years was in the harbour of Stari Grad, where a lonely dolphin entered the deep bay in 2005, and could not find its way out, trying fruitlessly to escape, before a team of Croatian experts managed to coax it back into the ocean, after a stressful three days in the harbour.