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Turkish Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 2019, Vol 19, Num, 9     (Pages: 765-774)

First Inventory of the Semi-Submerged Marine Caves in South Dinarides Karst (Adriatic Coast) and Preliminary List of Species

Vesna Mačić 1 ,Aliki Panou 2 ,Luigi Bundone 3 ,Dušan Varda 4 ,Miloš Pavićević 5

1 Institute for Marine Biology, Dobrota b.b. 85330 Kotor, Montenegro
2 Archipelagos - environment and development (NGO), GR-281 00 Lourdata, Kefalonia, Greece
3 Archipelagos-ambiente e sviluppo, Italia Calle Asiago 4 (Sant'Elena) (NGO), 30132 Venezia, Italy
4 Mediterranean Center for Environmental Monitoring (NGO), I. Milutinovića 7, Sutomore, Montenegro
5 Biospeleological Society of Montenegro (NGO), Zabjelo b.b., Podgorica, Montenegro
DOI : 10.4194/1303-2712-v19_9_05 Viewed : 948 - Downloaded : 372 Marine caves are classified as a biodiversity hotspot and priority habitat by the EU Habitats Directive. Despite of this fact, no information was available on these habitats and their associated species for the South Dinarides karst along the Adriatic coast of Montenegro. During 2013–2016, we surveyed the entire coastline of Montenegro (288km) in order to register and map the semi-submersed marine caves of the country. A total of 70 caves were registered of which 2 caves were 17m long and 22 caves were 25 m long or longer. The majority of the investigated caves were anchihaline (with fresh water overlying the sea water) while only few caves were euhaline (completely under marine conditions). Some caves were found to host considerable biodiversity and the presence of 6 protected and endangered species was registered inside the caves. During the surveys caves with morphological features suitable as potential habitat for the endangered Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus) were also highlighted. Given the abundance and diversity of organisms registered in these marine caves further surveys are needed in order to document in detail the biodiversity and the habitat characteristics, as well as to ensure the protection of these endangered habitats. Keywords : Marine caves, Dinarides karst, Biodiversity