Sunny shallows of the most beautiful ecosystem in the Adriatic

Sunny shallows of the most beautiful ecosystem in the Adriatic

The sunny shallows of the infralittoral zone are where most dives take place. Dives at a depth of up to 10 m among the sun-spangled algae, although less demanding, are often more gratifying, as far as diversity is concerned. The sun gives life to algae and plants, organisms that transform the inanimate into food at the beginning of the food chain.

 

However, not all shallows are equally life-bearing. Pebbly shallows are constantly influenced by currents, waves and tides, so that many algae and plants cannot flourish. There are fewer crabs, fish, anemones, urchins, but some persist on surviving – the largest among the gobies, the rock goby, is one, as well as hermit crabs, snails and the unusual stone fish.

Miro Andrić
Sandy beaches include species that dig into the sand to a depth of 1 m, like sea urchins, starfish, shellfish, and those that manage to take root, like Sargassum algae, or those that resemble fields – like the posidonia grasses.

Diving in these conditions requires grace and elegance, as too much use of fins may reduce visibility. This is, on the other hand, an advantage when diving at night since clouds of sand attract nocturnal species – mullets, striped bream, red sea bream, as well as the unusual snake blenny – that feed in the sand.

 

The sandy bottom is ruled by fish that like to dig in, like various soles, and by those that ambush their prey, like the stargazer or poisonous weever. The sandy seawater is also filtered by the largest shellfish in the Adriatic, endemic to the Mediterranean – the fan mussel, which grows to a height of 1 m.

 

Fields of grasses are an important eco-system in the Adriatic, alongside a plant that only grows in the Mediterranean – the posidonia. Up to 20% of species live, reproduce, grow and hide in this plant. Its roots are planted firmly in the sand, preventing erosion.

 

The most common and attractive dives are those along crags around islands and along the coastline which may drop sheerly in places to 100 m. The marine life here depends predominantly on currents; currents that supply numerous filtrators with small particles of food.

 

The first and most primitive animals are sponges, which are actually colonies of small organisms living off what the sea provides. They are irregular in shape and often look like stones or chimneys, or even elephant ears.

Marjan Radović
Animals that spend their entire active lives in one place are not that uncommon in the undersea world. Cnidarians, gorgonians and corals are but a few of these beautiful and colourful creatures. Other marine life includes moray eels, congers and scorpionfish.
Indux media d.o.o.

Caves

Life in caves is scarce – but they are a challenge to divers. Many still have stalactite and stalagmite remains dating from the Ice Age when they were part of the land mass. Due to the lack of sunshine and currents, life does not thrive here. The sediments at the bottom are frequently inhabited by Cerianthus membranaceus sea anemones and small leopard gobies. The cave entrances and openings and their vaulted ceilings are often covered in yellow cup-coral.