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Seagrass Maedows

Four species of seagrass

In the Adriatic and the entire Mediterranean, there are four species of seagrass; Neptune grass, Cymodocea, dwarf and common eelgrass, which are protected by law. Thick and spread-out seagrass populations are the most productive habitats in the Adriatic, which grow from the surface to a depth of 40 metres. In our exhibit, you can get to know their most common inhabitants, such as fish from the wrasse family (.....) Mediterranean chromis, fish from the sea bream family (salema, sheephead bream, red porgy and others), and, until recently, a very common endemic bivalve, the noble pen shell.

(Posidonia oceanica, (L.) Delile)

Neptune grass

Neptune grass is an endemic species in the Mediterranean, which grows to form spacious meadows on sandy or silty seabeds and represents a refuge for more than 20% of species. In the last 50 years, a regression of its growth of 34% has been noted in the Mediterranean. Human activity, such as anchoring, cause the degradation of Neptune grass growth. To renew 1 m2 takes more than a hundred years. Neptune grass is an important source of oxygen: it is estimated that healthy and well-developed meadows produce more than 14 L/m² of oxygen in 24 hours.

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Did you know that the organism with the longest lifespan in the Mediterranean is Neptune grass? It has been determined that its leaf bases are more than 2000 and up to 3000 years old. In addition, Neptune grass is the only seagrass whose rhizomes (roots) also grow vertically. In this way, they avoid growing into the sediment, thereby forming bioconstructions – submarine terraces (mattes) – which slowly and consistently rise: up to 1 m every 100 years.

(Pinna nobilis, Linnaeus, 1758)

Noble pen shell

The noble pen shell is the largest endemic bivalve in the Mediterranean, whose shell grows to more than 1 m and which filters 4000 litres of seawater a day. Since 2016, due to the devastating impact of the parasite Haplosporidium pinnae, and the synergistic influence of bacteria (Mycobacterium sp.), there has been a massive dying out of the noble pen shell in the Mediterranean. It is estimated that only 100 living animals remain in open waters, while lagoons in Spain, France and Italy house some 100,000 individuals. To preserve the noble pen shell, in 2019, Aquarium Pula founded a rescue centre for the noble pen shell (“Noble Sanctuary”).

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Critically endangered noble pen shells are representatives of a group of keystone species, vital species of marine ecosystems. It is well-established that their shells form a habitat for almost 40 animal species and algae, which require a hard substrate for growth and development in areas with mainly a sandy or silty seabed.

(Sarpa salpa, Linnaeus, 1758)

Salema porgy

Salema porgy belongs to the Sparidae family and is characterised by the golden-yellow horizontal stripes along its body. Of interest is that grown individuals are plant eaters, while young individuals feed mainly on shrimp (crustaceans).

(Chromis chromis, Linne, 1758)

Mediterranean chromis

The Mediterranean chromis has an oval and laterally compressed body with recognisably large eyes and inhabits the sea at a depth of 2 to 40 m. The youngest individuals are blue, while the bodies of adults are dark brown. The type of rocky seabed is key, as it plays an important part in the transfer of nutrients (carbon, nitrogen and phosphorous), and nano-minerals from the open sea to the coastal area.

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They are considered a biological indicator of clean seas; they are found in significantly fewer numbers in seawater of lower quality and in very noisy environments.

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