Thursday, 20 January 2022

Seen a Dolphin While Sailing in Croatia? Here’s How to Report the Sighting

January 20th, 2022 - Dolphin sightings reported through the CroDolphin Little app will help researchers study and protect marine mammals inhabiting the Croatian Adriatic

Ever gone sailing in Croatia and spotted a friendly dolphin swimming along your sailboat, occasionally hopping out of the water? Dolphin sightings are relatively common in Croatian waters, especially in the Lošinj archipelago where the population of some 200 dolphins is observed and tracked by the Blue World Institute.

If you’re heading to the Croatian coast this summer and happen to spot a dolphin while island hopping, you can now log the sighting with the help of a handy app named CroDolphin Little.

The app was developed by the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Zagreb to allow for simple and quick reporting of marine mammal sightings in the Adriatic, reports Turističke priče. Its primary purpose is to collect data on the population, movements and behaviour of marine mammals in Croatia.

Anyone can help researchers study and protect marine mammal species in Croatian waters by installing the app on their smartphone and logging any sightings of dolphins, whales or Mediterranean monk seals.

The CroDolphin app is easy to use: on the front page, tap ‘I see dolphins’; there’s a separate option to select in the unfortunate case of spotting a wounded or dead dolphin. You will then have to provide some additional information, such as location (GPS or GMaps), the number of animals you’ve seen, species, date and time.

CroDolphin little app screenshot

Every sighting report triggers a text message that is sent from the app to the expert team tracking the marine mammal population. The data is also automatically stored in the database that’s open to the public, but for the sake of animal safety, any sightings reported in the last 12 hours aren’t shown on the map.

The app is available for iOS and Android, and requires internet connection for map usage.

All marine mammal species inhabiting the Adriatic, including bottlenose dolphins, are considered endangered and have been protected under Croatian law since the 1990s. It’s forbidden to kill the animals, harass them in any way, or destroy their habitat.

If you spot a dolphin on the Croatian coast, we encourage you to report the sighting, but above all remember to observe and appreciate these wonderful animals from a distance to help keep them safe. Here’s our short guide on how to behave when you see a dolphin, and what to do in case you come across a stranded or injured animal.

Friday, 4 June 2021

CASCADE Project: Italy and Croatia Collaborating on Ecosystems Monitoring

June 4, 2021 - With the scientific community in Croatia busy and involved in international projects, meet the CASCADE Project. Learn how Italian and Croatian scientists are working together in monitoring ecosystems.

Croatian scientists in Croatia are running various projects which either don't get reported on by journalists, or if they are reported on, they sadly don't get too much attention from the public.

One such project is the Projekt CASCADE which started back on January first, 2020, and will continue until the very end of 2022.
As reported on the website of The Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries (IOR), the 5,817,547 euros, 85 % of that capital (4,944,914.95 euros) is secured by The European Regional Development Fund (ERFD).

CASCADE is short for „CoaStal and marine waters integrated monitoring systems for ecosystems protection and management“, and is part of the Interreg Italy-Croatia 2014-2020 strategic program. Assess the quality of coastal marine ecosystems in order to restore the habitats of endangered species and provide support for integrated management is the main goal set by 2022.

For the next three years, the project team from the Laboratory for Plankton and Shell Toxicity and the Laboratory for Chemical Oceanography and Sedimentology will work on monitoring, gathering knowledge about habitat and ecosystem biodiversity in the field of project cooperation (Adriatic Sea). It will participate in the establishment of new, as well as the improvement, of existing coastal systems for monitoring and management of coastal and open water ecosystems. Joint actions will assess and protect coastal and marine biodiversity and establish restoration actions. The pilot area of ​​the Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries (IOR) within the EU CASCADE project is the mouth of the Neretva River“, explains the IOR website.

There are eleven pilot areas in Croatia and Italy where the researches will be conducted: lagoon Grado and Marano and Gulf of Trieste, coastal belt of the Italian region Emilia-Romagna, marine protected area Torre Guaceto (natural reef), Punta Della Contessa, Melendugno in the Italian region of Puglia, the mouth of the Neretva river, the coastal zone of the Italian region of Veneto, mouth of the river Miljašić Jaruga, coastal belt of the Italian region of Molise, the northeastern part of the Adriatic Sea in Croatia, mouth of the river Cetina, Torre del Cerrano and Pineto Marine Park on the Abruzzo coast, and finally, the coastal zone of the Italian Marche region.

„At the mouth of the Neretva River (P4 pilot area), the IOR team members will sample sediment, shells, and seawater, depending on the type of matrix, they will analyze various parameters such as salinity, oxygen concentrations, heavy metals, and nutrients, with the aim of establishing an optimal system of observation of coastal and open waters“, added IOR.

The head of the projects within the IOR side is Dr. Sc. Ivana Ujević and various Italian and Croatian regions/counties, regional development agencies, scientific institutes, and two ministries from Italy and Croatia are included as associated partners.

Learn more about Croatian inventions & discoveries: from Tesla to Rimac on our TC page.

For more about science in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Journalist Clickbait Victim: The Curious Case of Mystery Fish on Korčula

June 2, 2021 -  When TC editor Iva Tatić caught the fish nobody could identify, TCN reporter Ivor Kruljac jumped to action in the hope he will find a marine life scoop. But after the dramatic realization that Atlantic lizardfish is nothing spectacular, he became a journalist clickbait victim. Meet the mystery fish on Korčula. 

It was early evening between 7 pm-8 pm on the eastern Korčula coastline on May 28. After a long week of handling the Total Croatia site, TC editor Iva Tatić decided to chill and went fishing. Instead of managing the multilingual site that brings you the best tips on how to travel and enjoy Croatia, she must've been happy with the idea she can enjoy in Croatia herself, as she was preparing two hooks – one with a squid and the other with the piece of bread. Marine life must be very humble cause instead of a squid (absolutely delicious, either fried or grilled and stuffed with swiss chard), the bread was the taken bait for the careless fish soul underneath the Adriatic surface.

Iva took the opportunity and caught its prey, but pretty soon, happiness for the catch was additionally spiced with curiosity.


the source of curiosity and happiness © Iva Tatić

„What the hell is this?“ Iva asked the local Korčula fishermen showing them her catch.

And „no idea“ was the consensus by other marine life hunters.

„Locals call it the spider“, said a local fisherman known as Pero to Iva. „It looks like Spiderman“.

Iva didn't feel that Spiderman is an accurate comparison, and as no one really knew the answer, the whole thing went online.

After Iva shared the photos of its catch on Facebook, the online jury narrowed the mystery to two possible suspects: Saurida and Atlantic lizardfish.

Still being new and wanting to gain recognition in the newsroom, I took on myself to investigate what exactly is this Aquaman-Spiderman-love-child. Perhaps it's something invasive, a threat to the lovely Adriatic, and a fantastic journalist story.


The case, the challenge, the scoop © Iva Tatić

Word on the expert street

A little bit of browsing through the pages of Rovinj Sea Research Centre (CIM), and a few calls, led me to the CIM Senior scientific associate, dr. Andrej Jaklin.

„It looks like Atlantic lizardfish, I saw that fish in person on Pelješac 15 years ago“, said Dr. Jaklin on the phone while looking at the images of the catch I sent him.

Jaklin's memory also seems fit with Pelješac being close to Korčula Island. Still, he said he can't really tell me too much about the fish and recommended it to me to contact dr. Marcelo Kovačić from the Natural History Museum Rijeka. However, dr. Kovačić, a curator for vertebrates, was on vacation, so the call was picked up by Milvana Arko-Pijevac, curator for marine invertebrates.

„I think this could be an Atlantic lizardfish, the head looks like it should, but I'm specialized for invertebrates, mollusks and shellfish“, said Silvana Arko-Pijevac.

So until that point, two experts for marine bio life are certain this is an Atlantic lizardfish (Synodus saurus). Fish, from Atlantic, I thought. Are we talking about an invasive species that manage to come to the northern dead-end of the Mediterranean all the way from the Atlantic? If so, is it hazardous to the domestic sea life of the Adriatic?

Despite recognizing the fish, neither Jaklin nor Arko-Pijevac couldn't say more details, but it's worth noting that the scientific community can once again serve as a role model to everyone who thinks they are experts on everything (both in Croatia but a trend we see spawn worldwide). Instead, my interlocutors accepted and pointed out the limits of their knowledge and suggested me someone who knows more.

Clickbait: It's not just for journalists anymore!

It took me a while to reach Dr. Jakov Dulčić from the Laboratory of Ichthyology and Coastal Fishery at the Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries in Split. First, he was not in the office, and later, he was at a meeting. But, with Arko-Pijevac's claim that Dulčić is the best ichthyologist in all of Croatia, it was worth the wait.

Finally, my mobile phone impulses from Zagreb caught dr. Dulčić in Split, and I excitedly asked him for help. To identify and say a bit more about the mysterious fish fishermen in Korčula failed to recognize, but is suspected to be the Atlantic lizardfish.

„I have to see the photos to say for certain“, said Dulčić.

„I already sent them to your e-mail before this call. Can you please refresh your E-mail?“, I asked with hearable excitement in my voice and suspense in my gut.

The suspense only grew as Dulčić was opening the e-mail.

„Found it!“, he said and I almost screamed out of excitement,

„Yes, indeed, that is the Atlantic lizardfish“, confirmed Dulčić with a relaxed voice while I was ready to ask tons of questions about this weird and possibly invasive species.

„But that is neither exciting nor anything special to catch in the Adriatic“, continued Dulčić with the same chilled tone.

I listened to that sentence with a blank expression fortunately, nobody has seen it except the walls in my apartment.

„You might think it's unusual in Croatian waters because of its name, but it's the normal fish that lives in Adriatic“, added Dulčić.

I couldn't help but think what a sour poetic justice. Being a journalist, a member of the profession in which some of my colleagues try to catch views by clickbait, to be hooked (pun intended) on a clickbait in scientific terminology.

„They can be found across the Adriatic sea, everywhere in Croatia. Their population used to be smaller in the previous years, but it recently got larger. It seems they have certain cycles, but it's nothing spectacular“, he concluded.

„But how come none of the fishermen recognized it?“, I asked puzzled.

„Interestingly enough, it is often caught, but it can rarely be seen on the fish market, and that's a place thanks to which you can usually recognize fish“, explained Dulčić.

However, informing and educating fishers and the general public about marine life in the Adriatic is something dr Dulčić and the Oceanographic Institute are very dedicated to.


Presenting you the Atlantic lizardfish © Iva Tatić

This is evident by the LEKFishResCRO project.

„This project will address the need to improve knowledge on the trends in Adriatic fisheries with novel methods as well as to acknowledge recent changes in fish biodiversity in a complex Adriatic ecosystem. The central objective of the project will be to evaluate the potential use of the LEK in developing the knowledge base for fisheries management and conservation. The strategy employed for this evaluation will be a two-way discussion between fisherman and other stakeholders from one side and fisheries biologists from another side around the subject of what sorts of indicators of ecosystem health would make sense in light of both the LEK of the fishers and the research-based knowledge (RBK) of the fisheries biologists“, says LEKFishResCRO website, and with loads of materials, you can check yourself.

„We collaborate well with fishermen, we work on their education, and with their tips and images they sent from the field we quickly gather research data“, explained Dulčić.

The invasive species are legitimately a threat to Adriatic, and it comes from the Red Sea through Eastern Mediterranean, but these examples are excellent topics for some other articles.

In the meantime, the mystery fish is identified as a mainstream species in the Adriatic. Somewhat newsworthy (maybe?), but this time my ship returned without a scoop from the stormy cruise in the sea of information.

I sent a message to Iva explaining what she caught (which she already found out on her own, she is a good journalist after all), and I only confirmed that she can unfreeze it and eat it safely. Additionally, I found this recipe at least.


Korčula and Adriatic Sea, Pixabay

Enjoy the Adriatic, but respect marine life

In an attempt to conclude this investigative piece (let's pretend it is one, please) on a socially responsible and eco-friendly note, I asked dr Dulčić if there are any type of fish tourists and locals shouldn't fish because it's on the verge of extinction and if caught it should be returned to the sea immediately. „Such fish is living in areas and conditions where you can't catch it with hooks or nets. But Do not dive out noble pen shells (Pinna nobilis), or disturb mammals such as dolphins. And be careful around sharks and jellyfish“, concluded dr. Dulčić.

Learn more about Korčula on our TC page.

For more about science in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Saturday, 24 August 2019

VIDEO: Sea Lamprey from Depths of Croatian Adriatic Near Mljet

As Morski writes on the 20th of August, 2019, sea lampreys (Petromyzon marinus) are parasites that live on many species of fish and mammals. These strange creatures spawn once in a lifetime in fresh water, and instead of hooking itself onto a passing fish, this specimen managed to attach itself to the stern of a boat in Croatian waters.

According to, the younger sea lampreys remain buried in the relative safety of river silt during the entire first year of its life, later on, it moves down and out to sea. They have several life stages, during their "sea" phase they try to find a victim, from whom they will suck blood. These unlucky ''hosts'' are mostly dolphins, larger fish, and turtles, but boats and ships of course usually do not belong to this group.

This morning, Marin recorded an unusual sight of a sea lamprey near the island of Mljet in southern Dalmatia, the lamprey had somehow managed to latch itself onto the stern of the ship, likely mistakenly. He tried to remove the lamprey and set it back off into the sea but it persistently returned and reattached itself to the stern.

Although these sea lampreys are quite rare in Croatian waters, in places where they're more common, this odd behavior from them is often observed, there are assumptions that lampreys attach themselves to their hosts and become ''hitch hikers'' on their migrations, but they are more likely to keep trying to attach themselves to vessels due to general misjudgment.

They are elongated, smooth and slimy and without a shell. They have two dorsal fins, are a greenish brown to greenish gray colour on the upper side, and pale on the underside. They can also be black marbled.

They can grow up to 3 kilograms in weight and reach around one metre in length.

While not often seen, lampreys live throughout the Croatian Adriatic, although it is found mostly near the mouths of rivers, and in the rivers themselves.

Watch the video here:

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for much more.

Sunday, 21 July 2019

Rarely Seen Octopus Appears in Adriatic Near Hvar, Brač and Šolta

As Morski writes on the 20th of July, 2019, between the Dalmatian islands of Hvar, Brač and Šolta there has been an invasion of a certain unusual species of octopus. It is a blanket octopus (Tremoctopus violaceus), an otherwise very rarely seen species in the Adriatic sea.

Very similar occurrences such as this have been noted before, and it's more than likely some of the hydrographic conditions in the sea were affected, which was conducive to the current ''invasion'' of these animals in the Croatian Adriatic.

Just to get an idea of ​​how rare this species actually is in the Adriatic, the last known appearance of the blanket octopus in such a small area took place back in 1936.

We know very little about the life of these creatures which are otherwise widespread but very "rare" in all of the world's seas. Back in 2002, the first male was discovered and since then we have known that this is an animal with the largest difference in size between the two sexes. The males are only 2.4 centimeters long, while females can grow up to 2 metres in length.

An exploration of the feeding of large predatory fish in the Mediterranean in 2015 has shown that local predatory fish do eat the blanket octopus, and this tells us that this octopus might not actually be as rare in these parts as we think it is, but of course, we're not fish, and fish know the world below the sea much better than we do or ever could.

If you see or manage to catch this type of blanket octopus, please make sure experts can officially record your findings, asks Podvodni.

Morski discussed this topic further with the editor of the portal, who is the author of numerous texts with marine themes, as well as an associate of the Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries in Split, Pero Ugarković.

''As far as the Adriatic is concerned, this is a sensational phenomenon that has appeared in such a small area, in such large numbers. Over ten of them have been caught, most of which were released back into the sea,'' says Ugarković.

''Back in the 19th century, Kolombatović encountered several blanket octopus near Split when fishing and assumed that they're often hunted, but since then there has actually been no data on this species except a few sporadic catches and several anecdotes about them. One similar phenomenon occurred in the northern Adriatic back in 1936 when several of them in the Adriatic were caught in a small area.

They've always been considered very rare in the whole of the Mediterranean, but they'd be seen from time to time. After a survey that was conducted three years ago, where they looked into what large predatory fish were eating, it was concluded that blanket octopus are still common in the sea. Tuna seem to eat a lot of them.

The problem is that we can't see them. Some hydrographic conditions changed and that's why there are suddenly a lot of them. An Italian who watched them be caught back in 1936 tried to connect it with the warming of the sea, with it reaching over 25°C, which would fit with this sudden emergence of them in the Croatian Adriatic.

We know little about this species, and when it comes to species we don't know much about, we can't even begin to estimate how threatened they are,'' concluded Ugarković.

Follow our dedicated lifestyle page for much more.

Sunday, 14 July 2019

Underwater Camera Near Šibenik Films Curious Sea Turtle

Sea turtles, alongside dolphins, are without a doubt some of the world's favourite marine animals, and thanks to live underwater cameras, such as the one in Šibenik, we have the opportunity to watch them and many other fish and marine life via the internet.

There are several underwater cameras set up along the Croatian coast which show live streams of the seabed, one of the most popular among them is the one set up near the historic and increasingly popular Dalmatian City of Šibenik.

As Morski writes on the 13th of July, 2019, this underwater camera, which is due to mark these three years since its placement in the coming days, captured a passing and very curious visitor early the other morning.

The curious turtle, more precisely a Loggerhead, swam up to the Šibenik camera and appeared interested in the camera, pausing on its way somewhere and appearing to inspect the device.

The Šibenik underwater camera has recently been connected to the YouTube service and manages to garner more than 11,000 views monthly, with an impressive total of 60,000 viewing minutes. In its work so far, it has recorded numerous fish species; including octopus, squid, numerous fallen fish, grebe birds diving for their lunch under the water, as well as divers who engage in the theft of precious Mediterranean Pen Shells, which are protected by law.

The placement of the underwater camera was initially realised thanks to the cooperation of the Šibenik Meteo Association and the Institute for Marine and Environmental Research of the Ruđer Bošković Institute with the financial assistance provided by the Tourist Board of the City of Šibenik.

Watch the live stream on YouTube here:

Watch the footage of the turtle who came up to check the camera out here:

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for much more.

Sunday, 16 June 2019

Pula Professor: The Adriatic Needs Sharks, There's No Need to Fear Them!

As Glas Istre/Dubravko Grakalic writes on the 16th of June, 2019, one professor from the University of Pula weighs in on the Mako shark sightings that have been taking place in the Croatian Adriatic recently.

''Sharks aren't a threat to us, but we're a threat to them. If we don't help in their recovery, the sea will cease to be what it is, a rich, complex treasure trove of life, key to maintaining our lives on the blue planet. It will just become a big, empty body of salt water,'' emphasised Dr. Bojan Lazar, a respected professor from the University of Pula.

While amazing to be able to witness and film, the appearance of the Mako shark near Makarska and then in the Korčula channel was perhaps not the best event for some tourists and locals, while for experts, it's excellent news.

Dr. Bojan Lazar, a professor of conservation biology and a specialist in large sea vertebrae of the Department of Natural and Health Studies at the University of Pula, who teaches students in Koper, Slovenia, as well as in the Croatian capital of Zagreb, says that sharks are a necessary part of the marine ecosystem, and that the chances of seeing a replay of the classic film ''Jaws'', which sent out an extremely incorrect and damaging image of sharks into the world, is far smaller than the chances of being hit by a car while buying ice cream are.

In the vicinity of Makarska, a somewhat rare species of shark, a Mako shark, showed up and was far from camera shy. Mako sharks were once much more present in the Croatian Adriatic than they are today.

''Judging by the footage, it was a Mako shark that was filmed in Makarska. It looks like a juvenile animal, that is, a young shark that is known to approach closer to the coastline due its diet generally being made up of smaller fish. Older and bigger specimens of this species are extremely fast, eating lobster fish, swordfish or tuna, while sexually immature, juvenile specimens often approach the coastline to feed on smaller types of fish,'' explains Dr. Lazar and says: "In Croatia, the Mako shark holds the status of a critically endangered species and is thus protected by law. It used to be part of a rich marine fauna both in the Adriatic and in the Mediterranean sea.''

The Mako shark belongs to the top predators of the marine system of pelagic sharks. The global populations of this shark species worldwide have been reduced in the last fifty years. This means that today, in the world's oceans, there are only three to five percent of these big sharks. In addition to the Blue shark, the Mako shark is the fastest species of shark, and can reach speeds of 74 kilometres per hour when chasing its target, giving its prey little chance of escape.

Professor Lazar says that the appearance of Mako sharks in the Croatian Adriatic today, unfortunately, is a rarity. Recent research shows that since the end of the Second World War to today, the number of large sharks in the Adriatic has decreased by over 94 percent, while some species have sadly completely disappeared.

What makes the recent footage of this beautiful and seeminly very calm young Mako shark even more amazing is that the chance to actually be able to watch Mako sharks in the Adriatic sea today is rare. Since 1948, only sixty have been noticed, and these were mostly juvenile, sexually immature animals, emphasised Dr. Lazar.

It's interesting to note that in Croatia, archaic names are still used for sharks. The Great White Shark is still often referred to as the ljudožder in Croatia. This old Croatian word indicates that these sharks are blood thirsty and want to hunt and eat humans, which is not only incorrect but very damaging for their already shaky reputation.

These names were given at a time when we didn't really understand that sharks aren't mindless killing machines, and when we were very, very afraid of them. As stated, these inflammatory old names for sharks go hand in hand with the wrong perception many people still have of sharks, despite the fact that attacks are extremely rare and are almost always cases of mistaken identity, with the shark immediately retreating when realising that their target is in fact a human, and not a seal or other marine animal that it would typically prey upon.

The professor went on to explain that for many decades, sharks were hunted and killed out of fear.

The main message this Pula professor and marine expert wants to express is that the presence of Mako sharks in the Croatian Adriatic is something to be celebrated. View footage of the shark here, here and here.

Seen a Mako shark while sailing in the Adriatic? Send us your photos or videos!

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