Return of turtles from Skradinski Buk pond after long absence from Krka National Park
September 19, 2021 – The turtles of the Skradinski buk pond have returned to their ideal living conditions in Krka National Park, mainly thanks to the decrease in the number of visitors due to the pandemic.
After a long absence, the strictly protected pond turtle species (Emys orbicularis) has found refuge at the foot of the longest travertine barrier in Europe. One adult and two young have been confirmed, reports Sibenik.in.
The pond turtle has ideal living conditions in Krka National Park. It is most numerous in the middle and upper reaches of the Krka river, especially along the banks near the Krka monastery: the marsh at the foot of the Carigradska draga is its essential habitat. Thanks to the reduction in the number of visitors caused by the pandemic, the pond turtle returned to the Skradinski Buk area after many years. The swimming ban at Skradinski Buk has further reduced the pressure on the aquatic ecosystem, so this year they are laying eggs. The natural habitats of pond turtles are stagnant, slow-flowing freshwater rich in vegetation, such as muddy-bottomed lakes, ponds, rivers, canals, floodplain forests, and brackish waters. As it is a cold blooded animal, it is suitable for quiet places for sunbathing, mainly on stumps and rocks.
The pond turtle is a strictly protected species: protected by the law on the protection of nature, the European Union directive on the protection of natural habitats and wild fauna and flora (Habitats directive) and the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Berne Convention). In addition, Emys orbicularis is the target species of the Natura 2000 ecological network, an important conservation area for species and habitat types HR2000918 Krka and the surrounding plateau. The name Emys comes from the Greek word “emys” (ὲμύς), which means “freshwater turtle”.
The pond turtle is also active at night when hunting and searching the surroundings but never stray from the water. It feeds mainly on invertebrates, most often beetles, snails, shrimp, earthworms and tadpoles, less often amphibians and small fish, and less aquatic plants. It has a hard shell, more flattened than a land turtle and slightly wider at the rear. In Mediterranean populations, the shell is about fifteen centimeters long. It has five conspicuous toes with claws on its front legs and four on its hind legs.
Males and females are easily recognized, mainly by their size: females are larger than males. As the animal grows, so do the plates that cover the carapace (upper) and plastron (lower part of the carapace). They form growth zones, with which the age of the individual can be determined by counting the rings. Like rings on a tree, they grow in concentric rings extending from one corner. Growth largely depends on the climatic conditions in which the turtle lives, so it is slowed down in winter or in the dry season. In the unfavorable season for growth, some parts of the rings tear and darken, and in the right season they expand. Other factors that affect the growth rate are sex, habitat characteristics, type of diet, and food availability.
The pond turtle chooses nesting areas with sandy surfaces rich in necessary food and safe from predators. They have what is called the temperature-dependent determination of embryonic sex: eggs incubated at temperatures below 25 ° C, only males will develop, and those incubated above 30 ° C, only females will develop. will develop. The male / female ratio due to the different natural conditions during the day and night is usually 50:50. Pond turtles reach sexual maturity at 6 to 8 years of age when they reach a length of about 12.5 cm. They are then considered fully developed adult individuals. Their development is sensitive and depends on ecological, genetic factors, the availability of food and the quality of the habitat. The oldest record of the presence of a pond turtle at “Kerka” at “Scardone” dates from 1780 (in the work by Pietro Nutrizi Chrisogon Notizie per servire alla storia naturale della Dalmazia).
To find out more, follow our lifestyle section.