Travelling across the Adriatic islands: Wetlands, No.1 Murter and Šolta

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During these last several months, through various posts, we introduced you to the story we create through the project „Water pearls of the Adriatic islands". In this blog you will not only be informed about the project, the goal of which is to assess the status of wetlands on Adriatic islands, you will also become a part of our story. Through the regularly published articles you'll be able to follow our field work and learn interesting facts about wetlands, their importance, endangerment, protection and their condition in Croatia, the region and in the world. For all who are interested in additional activities there will be an opportunity to actively be a part of our project.


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Figure 1. Pond on Murter Island

 There have been talks about wetlands for years, mostly in a negative context. In the last 100 years their number has drastically fallen and because of that they are one of the most endangered ecosystems in the world. From ancient times the Mediterranean represented an area with a close connection between humans and wetlands which were very important for the development of civilizations. Some of the greatest civilizations, such as Egypt and Mesopotami,a originated on or near such areas which were water and food reservoirs and they enabled transport of materials and goods. They are important not only for people, but for animals and plants which permanently or occasionally live near or inside such water habitats, and also wetlands are very important for stopping floods and regulating the temperature of the surrounding area. You can watch a video about the importance of the wetlands from the „Wetlands Provide Priceless Services" initiative for preserving Mediterranean wetlands – MedWet on this link: MedWet video.

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Figure 2. Pond on Šolta Island


Our island story begins on Murter and Šolta! After thorough planning in the office, we went on our first field research from 26 till 30 April 2017., to find wetlands on these two islands. We had the coordinates of these wetlands which we acquired during the winter months when we checked and marked them with the help from topographic maps and ortophoto images. This job was much easier with the help from already exsisting data and coordinates from CAEN (Croatian Agency for Environment and Nature) and Public Institution Priroda. Wetlands on islands are diverse, the most common ones being man-made or natural ponds, but there are also open cisterns, wet meadows, salt marshes, lakes, Mediterranean swamps etc. Follow this blog about travelling across the Adriatic islands an you will be familiarized with the diversity and natural heritage of wetlands.


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Figure 3. Human influence on salt marsh on Murter Island


Weather conditions at the end of April weren't on our side, the rain and south-easternly wind aren't the best combination for fauna inventarization, so we did not find many species during this visit. Some of the most intersting ones we did find are: two species of amphibians, the European green toad (Bufotes viridis) and the European tree frog (Hyla arborea); reptiles near the wetlands, such as the European glass lizard (Pseudopus apodus), Dalmatian wall lizard (Podarcis melisellensis) and Balkan whip snake (Hierophis gemonensis); dragonflies such as the blue-tailed damselfly (Ischnura elegans) and lots of larvae which need to be identified. We also inventoried the aquatic vegetation and photographed all the habitats which we visited. Unfortunately we saw some negative anthropogenic influence: on Murter Island parts of salt marshes are filled in to expand the road and on Šolta Island we saw alien species in some ponds, mostly gold fish but also one invasive red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans).


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Figure 4. European green toad - the most common amphibian on Adriatic islands


During the field work the locals were of great help in helping us find the wetlands and gather information about them. On Šolta we talked with one older gentleman who helped us determine if one of the ponds was temporary or permanent, how much water on average is in it during the year and he told us what purpose ponds had in the past and when was the last time they were cleaned and managed. The local population is, after all, the best source of knowledge about their island. We recorded four wetlands on Murter and 11 wetlands on Šolta.

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Figure 5. Field work on pond on Šolta.


Besides te field work we also organized lectures for the children in Vjekoslav Kaleb Elementary School in Tisno and Grohote Elementary School in Grohote, Šolta. For the grown ups and every interested island residents we also organized a workshop in Baganelovica Community Center in Jezera, Murter, and Dom Kulture in Grohote, Šolta, with the goal of creating a web of volunteers on Adriatic islands. We would like to thank dr. sc. Marija Pandža for her enthusiasm and great desire to transfer knowledge about wetlands to the local kids on Murter. Also, Mirela Mijić, pedagogue, and Dragana Đurić, librarian, were of great help because they enabled every student to find out about the wetlands of Šolta and we are very grateful to Dinko Sule for his activism and help during our travels on Šolta.

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Figure 6. Educational lecture in Grohote elementary school.


Our story continues on Dugi Otok Island, and Korčula follows soon after. With great impatience we await the newest stories of exploring the island wetlands, and organising workshops and lectures with local people.
Follow our stories and travel across the Adriatic islands with us!

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