On the 26th of May 2021, the Croatian Ministry of Tourism and Sport organized the testing of the "Eco-educational path underwater of NP KORNATI" in the Kornati National Park - a pilot area of the INHERIT project and a recently awarded INHERITURA area.
The pandemic has revealed how much the protected areas and many local communities are dependent on tourism and natural heritage. The Adriatic Sea has great biodiversity, however, the marine ecosystems are vulnerable to harmful human influence and pollution.
"Eco-educational trail - underwater of NP Kornati" was first successfully tested by the director of the Public Institution NP Kornati, Šime Ježina and Leo Lušić from the diving center Najada Diving from Murter.
In close cooperation with the local community from Šibenik-Knin County, "Eco-educational path-underwater of NP KORNATI" was developed as the part of INHERIT activity A4.5 "Development of complementary sustainable tourism activities to mass tourism", which includes investments of smaller values in thematic equipment and infrastructure that will allow tourists to visit key attractions within the INHERITURA area. The Ministry purchased the diving equipment for the Discovery diving program for beginner divers, worth approximately 21.000 EUR.
The location of the underwater path is at the little island of Škanj Veli between the islands of Vela Panitula and Mala Panitula. It is a shallow area of 0-5 meters deep which is specific for a healthy flowering meadow (Posidonia oceanica), from the outside there is a vertical underwater wall, 60 meters deep, near the marina Piškera in Kornati which are visited by a large number of visitors.
Although diving can carry many risks for the environment, if divers are responsible, it can have positive impacts on marine life and the local community. It is estimated that there are more than 20 million divers in the world, and if each diver breaks only 1 gram of e.g. coral, the result of the loss is in tons of destroyed corals. Touching with a fin, camera, or hand can destroy decades of coral growth, damage a plant, or harm the sea animal.
Feeding, touching, or speeding can cause stress for animals, break the food chain, mating, etc. It is important to avoid plastic products and sunscreens that contain oxybenzone. It should also be avoided buying souvenirs made from shells, corals, or turtles, as they can become home to marine organisms or become beautiful sand. So, take memories instead and leave only bubbles. Choose responsible and authorized diving schools, which offer certified training programs and adhere to the philosophy of being a responsible diver who helps to clean the seabed.