Life on Silba Island
This piece is adapted from a blog by Lisa Böhm entitled “Our Third Year on Silba Island, Croatia,” based on a 2019 expedition with our partners, Operation Wallacea.
“Dobar dan,” the locals greet you on this island when they are passing by.
The Croatian marine camp is based on Silba, which you can reach after a two-hour ferry ride north from Zadar. The camp is just a three-minute walk away from the crystal blue water of the West Beach. It’s the perfect invitation to enjoy the Adriatic Sea on a hot summer day.
After a five-minute walk, you are in the “city center” (as the staff call it). It’s a cute square with a pizza place, ice cream, coffee shop, and a bakery with delicious burek. Next to the café is a fruit and vegetable market and the main grocery store (with an ATM!). If you continue, you will access the East beach, where you can find a beach with sandy seafloor and amazing water, reminiscent of the Caribbean. East Beach has been named one of the three cleanest beaches in Croatia.
Our staff is a great mix out of different nationalities, from India to Spain to the UK and Croatia, of course. Each week the team would share conservation work and diving outings with curious and enthusiastic students.
Students have two options while on Silba. They have the chance to learn research methods while snorkeling and diving, or they spend the week completing the PADI Open Water course and being introduced to the fascinating and beautiful world of diving with our highly experienced Dive Instructors and Dive Masters.
All students take part in a series of lectures about the ecology of the Adriatic and the purpose of our conservation work. Lecture subjects include an introduction to Adriatic marine ecosystems and the biodiversity of the Adriatic Sea, including the threats that the sea and its islands are facing.
The main objectives for our science surveys were:
1) To record the abundance of three species of sea urchins (Paracentrotus lividus, Arbacia lixula and Sphaerechinus granularis)
2) To locate the threatened Noble Pen Shell (Pinna nobilis)
3) To assess the health and the conservation index of the seagrass meadows (Posidonia oceanica).
Little research has been done in this part of the Adriatic, and our work will contribute to long term monitoring of threats to the habitats and species of the region. In addition, we conduct beach clean-ups, usually on a weekly basis. Unfortunately, we find a lot of plastic in the sea, which often washes up on to the beautiful beaches. During the clean-up, we record the location, the type and weight of the plastic. We hope to use the data to identify strategies for managing plastic waste around the island.
The students who choose to join the science teams, receive comprehensive training in research methods and they then form a valuable part of the data collection team. Typically, they will work, twice a day, with the scientists and Dive Masters on snorkeling or diving surveys from the shore, or from the boat.
But it’s not all about work. The students have the chance to enjoy some free time, where they can go to the ‘city center’ and for a nice walk around the island. On the last day of the expedition they have a fun snorkel/dive in the morning and in the afternoon, they go to East Beach for a ‘holiday’ after their busy week.
As you can see, life is busy onsite. Nevertheless, it’s a lot of fun and the students learn a lot. To be able to live on this island, with its beautiful beaches, clear blue water, and no cars is amazing.
Want to join us to help conserve Silba’s pristine coastlines this summer? Check out our program options below: