Dusky groupers, Croatia -

Close to the island of Mljet in southern Croatia the only true coral reef of the Mediterranean Sea can be found. Colonies of the stony coral "Cladocora caespitosa", usually not larger than a human's fist, are building impressive blocks up to two meters in diameter. Additionally this is one of the very few tiny areas in Croatia, where fishing of any kind is entirely prohibited. No spear fishing, no gillnets, no hook and lines - the difference is stunning. already in shallow water of about 10 meters Annular, Two-banded and Sharpsnout seabreams are a lot larger than usual, numerous Dentex cruise by, a pack of docile European seabass is welcoming us in their element. Most amazing is the abundance of endangered Dusky grouper ("Epinephelus marginatus"). During 15 years of diving and snorkeling in the Mediterranean sea we've so far encountered two individuals outside of Mljet. One of them a tiny juvenile in "our" bay at Mali Lošinj. At Mljet we stopped counting at 15 ... Strinking are the countless Spiny lobsters and splendid specimens of Gilthead Seabream and Dentex awaiting their fate in the holding tanks of nearby restaurants. The catches for fishermen close to the protected area seem to be a lot better then elsewhere in Croatia. For years we've been telling our students how amazingly varied and abundant life in the sea could be if only fisheries were managed better and at places prohibited entirely. That the beautiful adriatic sea they experienced at our marine biology courses is actually only a shadow of herself. At the end we could hardly beleive it ourselves. It's awesome to see that the solution is actually quite simple. That the seas could be full of life once more and the fishermen would be the ones to profit the most. We know how to do it so - what are we waiting for ...? :-)