WORKSHOP AT KOSTANJ BEACH
On 30 July 2014, a second field workshop on coastal zone biodiversity was held at Kostanj Beach, a fairly well-preserved and unusually interesting part of nature in Rijeka in terms of flora and fauna. The workshop was organized as part of Blue Flag Project Day carried out by the Town of Rijeka. The aim of the workshop was to highlight the importance of this coastal area in the conservation of local biodiversity. The workshop participants were the members of the Kantrida Swimming Camp – elementary school children from grades one to four and their coaches. The workshop was led by the workers of Public Institution “Priroda” and the Department for Development, Urban Planning, Ecology and Land Management of the Town of Rijeka.
Not far from Kostanj Beach, we came across a small area of exceptionally well-preserved, naturally rocky shore covered in typical vegetation that can withstand salinization caused by sea waves. When the jugo wind blows, it generates powerful waves here and causes sea spray which brings salt to the soil. That is why the strip of coastal halophytic plants is only several tens of metres wide and unusually rich in characteristic species. Beyond this, there is a strip of shrubs and typical semi-Mediterranean deciduous downy oak forest. The participants of the workshop had the opportunity to learn about rocky shore plants – halophytes (plants that are resistant to soil salinization) – such as the common agrimony, the sea lavender, the sea couch, and the spiny knapweed (in blossom). Of the halophytic shrubs, the chasteberry was in blossom, while some species of the sub-Mediterranean forest were already bearing fruit (the rough bindweed, a spiny creeper; the bittersweet nightshade, a toxic perennial; and others), while the acorns of the downy oak were still not ripe.
It is interesting to point out that this is one of the rare coastal habitats in which the decorative sea lavender, a plant that is exceptionally sensitive to pollution of the sea by oil, has managed to survive. The Rijeka region is its locus classicus or type locality, the place where it was first observed, recorded and described as a new species in botanical science. The conservation of such (micro) localities is of the utmost importance.
Of the animals living in this coastal zone, we learned about the mussel, a bivalve; the marbled rock crab; Poli’s stellate barnacle; isopods; and the small periwinkle, a sea snail. Fluttering around the shore flowers were several species of butterflies, flies, bumblebees, wasps and solitary bees. The children were taught about this intriguing living world through two games, Treasure Chest Hunt and Guess Who I am. The marine setting of well-preserved nature was considerably enhanced by a young specimen of the Mediterranean shag, calmly perched on a nearby rock and drying its spread wings throughout the entire workshop.
Photo 3. The children learned that the leaves of sea couch grass can cause painful cuts, because they have tiny teeth, which act like a saw, distributed around their edges. (Photo by M. Randić)