Always a pleasure
Here you are, enjoying your Adriatic voyage on a large cruiser, when all of the sudden people start screaming from joy. In a matter of minutes, every soul on deck has a camera pointing at the sea next to the ship, taking photographs of the dolphin kind, jumping out of the waves. And it’s a small wonder. Who could stay immune to such a beautiful sight?
The people of Croatia are accustomed to dolphins, especially Tursiops truncates or the bottle-nose dolphin. It was given its name for its habit of drinking (…no, we’re joking, it actually has a bottle-shaped nose).
Despite the high level of water cleanness and a considerable amount of food, dolphin numbers are declining in the Adriatic (unfortunately, this is also the trend throughout the rest of the world). This is why the Croatian government proclaimed a nature reserve around Losinj Island in 2006.
That was not a random choice. The sea around Losinj serves as home to a large dolphin population (more then 120 specimens). These mammals don’t serve just as a bright hope, but provide scientists with valuable information about their habits and behavior.
Things you didn’t know about dolphins
There are many things we don’t know about dolphins. Those which we do know usually makes us anxious to learn more about this intelligent species. Most people are familiar with the fact that dolphins are not fish, but mammals. Their young suckle their mothers up to age four, and their average lifespan is 50 years.
Dolphins don’t sleep because they have to be conscious in order to breathe. However, they developed the ability to rest half of their brain while the other is active. They produce high-pitched squeals, but scientists tell us this means of communication is much more complex then initially thought. For example, different groups of dolphins have different frequencies of squeals, meaning each population has its own language (or at least, their very own dialect).
Dolphins also use their sqeuals for echolocation. After producing a quick squeal, they are capable of sensing its sound wave returning from surrounding area. In other words, they have a natural sonar. When the feature is in use, these rascals can produce up to 700 clicking sounds in a minute, providing a detailed image of the area surrounding them. Not bad for an animal with no ears – dolphins have two openings on their head instead. They can also sense sound through a special bone in their jaws. With everything considered, dolphins have seven times better hearing than humans.
However, dolphins’ outer layer of skin is made completely of living cells. Because of this, they are much more sensitive than humans, and they aren’t resistant to bruises.
There are many reasons besides dolphins to visit Losinj. For example, the town of Osor is actually a huge outdoor museum, as even the great Ivan Mestrovic left his works there. Because of its numerous spa centers, opportunities for long walks, and its tradition of aromatherapy and astonishing nature, Losinj received the title of the “Island of Vitality”. You can learn more about it here.
But if you came for the dolphins, there are several options for meeting them. The basic one is attending an organized excursion, available here. In case you encounter them using your own vessel, try to be as passive as possible. They are friendly and curious creatures, but also very easy to disrupt. Do not approach them at closer than 100 meters, and if they do come closer, do not touch them or intimidate them in any way. Swimming next to them is also unadvisable, and do not throw garbage into the sea. This especially goes for nylon bags, which can kill a dolphin if swallowed (also, do not leave them on the shores, as the tide might bring them to the open sea).
Volunteers are usually welcome at Losinj, as there is always something to be done in the site’s busy schedule. In case you lack time, you can help the cause by adopting a dolphin. This interesting feature allows you to have your own pet in Losinj’s sea. Simply fill out the form and choose among several beautiful dolphins for adoption. After that, workers at the reserve will send you an adoption pack and extras like a t-shirt touting “I adopted a dolphin”, educational CDs and pictures of your mammal having fun in his Losinj home.
More information about volunteering and adoption can be found at Blue World.
It”s not an easy task to be adolphin in this world. But being an adopted one surely helps. These beautiful creature are yet another reason why Croatia is worthy of your next vacation.