Operation Wallace in Croatia – CROpwall is a project of the summer school of biological sciences. It was organized as an educational-expedition-research project of a multi-month volunteer camp funded by a donation from the British organization Operation Wallace, which emerged as an initiative of the academic community of the University of Oxford. The program is implemented in partnership with them, Janolus, the Marine Explorers Society 20.000 leagues and the Deep Blue Explorers Association. The year 2019 was the third year of the volunteer camp – for the first two years the CROpwall volunteer camp was located in the Mljet National Park and the Lastovo Islands Nature Park, while in the third year the camp was moved to Silba. The seabed of the island of Silba and the Silba reefs, which are located near the island in a westerly direction, are part of the Natura 2000 ecological network. The areas are of exceptional biological importance, but also an attractive tourist destination. The company 20,000 miles back a few years is committed and working intensively with several organizations and local authorities to make the island of Silba the first island in the Adriatic to undergo transformation through various segments to become as self-sustainable as possible, and to serve after 2019 as a research an educational center in which various biological and ecological research and education for CROpwall participants will be conducted, but also outside it. In 2019, about 200 students from all over the world participated in the camp. Students went through a program of education and training of marine environment research skills through the implementation of several biological researches. Consequently, participants gained new knowledge on the topic of biodiversity and ecology of the Adriatic Sea, complementary methodology used by experts in the field of marine science, sustainable lifestyle (first-hand example), proper management of natural marine resources, and raised awareness of protected and endangered marine species and the marine ecosystem as a whole. In addition, the volunteer participants collected important data for science through their training, and participated in research on communities of sea urchins, seagrass Posidonia, noble periscope and actions to clean the beaches and seabed of Silba.
In order to confirm the words with numbers, because we came to them by processing all the collected data, we emphasize the following!
The study of sea urchin population was conducted at 14 locations, and the size of 803 individuals of the rock urchin (Paracentrotus lividus), black hedgehog (Arbacia lixula) and spotted hedgehog (Sphaerechinus granularis) was measured by monitoring the sea urchins.
In order to check the ecological status of Posidonia oceanica along the island of Silba and the Silba reefs, a total of 15 locations were dived, 8775 shoots were counted, and the average number of shoots is higher than 360 shoots / m2.
With the aim of georeferencing individuals of the noble periscope (Pinna nobilis), 19574 meters of the coastline of Silba and Silbanski Reefs were swum and a total of 37 individuals were found and recorded.
Several large actions of cleaning the beaches and the seabed were carried out – the bays of Pocukmarak, Žalić, Sotorišće and others throughout Silba.
The successfully implemented project will continue in the summer of 2020 again in Silba – we look forward to new challenges, more students and more activities!
Marine Explorers Society 20.000 leagues gathers ambitious, comprehensive and creative researchers whose primary interest is marine biology. Members of the Society have wide and professional experience in organizing and carrying out various projects.