SEVENSEAS Marine Conservation & Travel Issue 17, October 2016 - Page 90

90 - SEVENSEAS

ENCOURAGING NEWS FROM THE ADRIATIC SEA

PERISKA or Lostura is beautiful, large, and highly sought after for food and for its shell. Frequently seen in Adriatic Sea, its Scientific name is Pinna Nobilis. The bivalve lives in sand or mud, most often found in meadows of sea grass.In the Adriatic, Periska is most commonly found in the coves and bays, it lives only in the Mediterranean Sea, and is the largest shell there, but also among the largest in the world. Nacre on Periska is quite thin, and usable only from the larger shells. In ancient times fiber from the shell was used to create a most precious and fine fabric, called sea silk. In Sardinia, the center of this amazing craft, local weavers used it to knit gloves and garments for royalty and various dignitaries.

In the former Yugoslavia, Periska which was regularly used for food but was protected since 1977, however, regardless of the increase in diving tourism in the mid 20th century and consequent overfishing, the biggest damage to the population was by pollution from untreated sewage and the chemical industry. The Kaštela Bay near Split, Croatia, was once known the largest settlement of this shellfish but after intense industrialization, construction of ports, as well as rapid growth of settlements on the coast, the Periska shell rapidly disappeared. Untreated Sewage and industrial pollution have destroyed not just Periska but the entire eco system in this large, enclosed bay near Split- and unfortunately many other places along the

Adriatic coast had a similar fate. For years, the loss of Periska in the Bay of Kaštela was blamed on overfishing as the main threat, but that was only one of the causes.

In the present millennium Croatia's former heavy chemical industry largely collapsed. In addition,

with the help of project Eco Kastelas the laws against industrial pollution and untreated sewage disposal have become much more stringent. Consequently, within 5 years of reduced pollution, Periska has begun to recover and has returned to former locations in Kaštela Bay and other similar locations where once it was known to be extinct. In the last two years the population of Periska has grown incredibly fast. The bay is full of young mussels and there are already fields with dozens of shells larger than 40-60 cm. If this trend continues for the next 5-10 years they are expected to completely restore the population. During dives in other locations, such as on the island of Hvar and the Istrian peninsula the same positive changes are also quite evident. This article was based on information received from local marine biologist Michael Golubic.