The first two weeks of this four-week expedition will be at the Puljane Mediterranean ecology research centre in the heart of the spectacular Krka National Park. There are over 12 different research projects and surveys running from this site each day (see above) and the two-week expeditions with only 6 days at the centre only allow participants to try a few of these whereas this longer expedition allows you to rotate between all the surveys and investigations or to specialise is one of them.
For the second two weeks you will be based at the Northern Dalmatia marine research centre on the beautiful island of Silba. If you are not dive trained you will complete a PADI Open Water dive training course in your first marine week followed by the Mediterranean ecology and survey techniques course, with two lectures and two practicals each day for the second week. Alternatively, if you are already dive trained or would prefer to snorkel you can complete the Mediterranean ecology and survey techniques course in your first week and then for your last week join the research teams helping with Noble Pen mollusc, sea urchin, seagrass, fish and marine plastics surveys.
The Krka Valley runs from the Dinaric mountains bordering Bosnia to the Adriatic and is only 77km in length. However, since the river runs through limestone there are some spectacular gorges and this is one of the most scenic river valleys in Europe. It is also important from a biodiversity viewpoint containing nine Croatian and three Krka endemic fish species and spectacular cave systems containing a number of potentially new species to science. Opwall together with Biota (a Croatian biodiversity research organisation) has built a research centre in the central part of the Krka valley with easy access to the whole park. The centre is based in a restored house and grounds within 100m of the park boundary and has access to all the habitats throughout the park and surrounding countryside. The National Park Authority have requested we perform baseline surveys to increase the known inventory for the Park, as well as collect long-term monitoring data to answer a series of their management questions.
Tourist visits to Krka National Park are heavily concentrated towards the lower stretches of the river and and very few people visit the central and northern parts of the valley. The Biota/Opwall research centre is in the central part of the valley within a rural community that has suffered from significant depopulation and land abandonment in recent years. The centre is designed to give benefits to the local community from the visits (e.g. provision of employment etc). Whilst the main research effort each year from this centre comes through the opwall programme, the centre will remain open year round in an attempt to attract some of the many visitors to the Croatian coast further inland, increasing revenue for the Park and local communities.
Silba Island is in the northern Dalmatian archipelago and is a car and hotel free island. The island markets itself as a haven of tranquillity and much of the island is still covered by Mediterranean black oak and maquis. The objective for our partners on this island is to develop the first marine research centre for northern Dalmatia and they have a series of research projects on seagrass, sea urchins, protected species and fisheries, as well as marine plastics.
Most of our volunteers fundraise for their expedition costs. Find out more.
Croatia is hot during this time of the year! In both Krka and Silba the daytime temperature rarely drops below 30 degrees and can reach 40 degrees.
Fitness level required
Moderate. Whilst there are not many steep hikes in the forest, the hikes are still quite long and the temperature can make them tiring.
At Krka you will either be staying in dormitories or in shaded tents with shared western style bathrooms and toilets. In Silba it will be in dormitories, again with shared bathroom facilities. There is some limited phone signal in Krka (but not reliable for a data connection), but good phone signal in Silba.