Category: Nationally designated areas Country: Croatia

Nacionalni park Kornati

Lat: 43.75958 Lng: 15.36708
Nacionalni park Kornati
The Kornati National Park (Nacionalni park Kornati) encompasses the majority of the Kornati Islands group in the Croatian part of the Adriatic Sea in central Dalmatia. Established in 1980, it was designated as a national park and placed under protection. The total area of the park is approximately 220 km², consisting of 89 islands, islets, and rocks. Only about 1/4 of the park's area is land, while the remaining portion constitutes the marine ecosystem.

Abounding in natural and cultural wonders, the Kornati Islands feature the most popular phenomenon of vertical cliffs, known as the "crowns," facing the open sea. The Kornati National Park area can be characterized as rich in exceptionally important underwater communities, which, due to long-term protection, remain highly preserved.

To date, 353 species of algae and 3 species of seagrasses, as well as around 850 animal species, have been recorded in the Kornati National Park. Among them are 61 species of corals, 177 species of mollusks, 127 species of polychaetes, 61 species of decapod crustaceans, 64 species of echinoderms, and 185 species of fish.

The coastal areas of the Kornati Islands, with muddy-sandy bottoms, are inhabited by meadows of the seagrass Posidonia oceanica. This plant is adapted to life in clear and clean seas and is an endemic species in the Mediterranean. These seagrass meadows enrich the sea with oxygen, earning them the title of "lungs of the sea." They serve as crucial habitats, feeding grounds, and spawning areas for numerous organisms. Due to its value, this area is a priority NATURA 2000 site.

A fascinating habitat called "coralligenous", present on the steep slopes ("crowns") on the open-sea side of the outer islands, consists of red algae that bind limestone from the sea into their structure. This habitat hosts a great diversity of species adapted to low light conditions, including sponges, corals, bryozoans, red and brown algae.

While navigating the park's waters, one can often encounter the common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus), the most common and the only permanently resident dolphin species in the Adriatic. According to research, the population in the broader park area consists of 147 individuals, with most sightings in the southern part. Occasionally, the area is home to the slow but charming sea turtles, among the most endangered animals globally. The loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta), the only permanent resident of the Adriatic, comes to the Kornati marine oasis for feeding and wintering, finding abundant food and necessary tranquility.
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