May 30, 2019 - Prince Albert II of Monaco, who is on a two-day visit to Montenegro, visited the Institute of Marine Biology at Kotor yesterday and announced further support to international research projects of this institution, aimed at studying and protecting the biggest shell in the Mediterranean - Noble Pen Shell, lat. Pinna Nobilis.
Beside Prince Albert II, Kotor was also visited by the Principal of Principality of Monaco, Bernard Fautrier, who is also the vice president of the Prince Albert II Foundation, dealing with issues of environmental protection, promotion of sustainable development and especially research on the protection of the sea. There was also Montenegrin Prince Nikola II Petrović Njegoš and President of the Management Board of the University of Montenegro dr Duško Bjelica. They visited the Laboratories of the Institute and talked to the staff of this institution.
The Director of the Institute for Marine Biology Dr. Mirko Đurović met Prince Albert with the history of this scientific research institute since 1961 intensively engaged in research and protection of the sea.
"Our key mission is exploring and protecting the Adriatic, but we work with colleagues from abroad on many projects of international significance, especially in the context of the protection of the Mediterranean. We have 34 permanent employees, of whom 12 are doctors and six are students of doctoral studies. One of our most significant new projects is the establishment of the Center for the Protection of the Biodiversity of the Adriatic through two phases. The first phase involves the establishment of the first aquarium in Montenegro, the Aquarium Boka, whose construction is in progress, and the opening is scheduled for May next year. The second phase involves the establishment of the Center for Rehabilitation and Endangered Species, which will care for the injured or sick marine animals," said Đurovic. He especially emphasized the project "PinnaSPOT," where, in studying and protecting the biggest Mediterranean shellfish, the IBMK successfully cooperates with scientists from Spain and France.
Project Manager Dr. Danijela Joksimović presented the PinnaSPOT project worth over half a million euros, also supported by the Albert II Foundation, during three years from the beginning of its implementation. Joksimovic said that the project was very successful because experts from Montenegro had the opportunity to exchange experiences and knowledge with colleagues from Spain and France. They compared data on the local populations of the Pinna Nobilis with their results, and succeed to contribute to raising the public awareness level in Montenegro on values and the need to protect this unique shell. She also pointed to the appearance of a parasite that in the past year or two destroyed the colonies of Pinna Nobilis in the underwater world of several Mediterranean states, because the mortality of shells attacked as much as 85%.
"Until now there has been no such massive flea market in the Adriatic, but our colleagues from Croatia have pointed out that a few months ago, near Zadar and Dubrovnik, there have been many deaths of these shells, indicating that the problem has come to our shores. It is therefore essential to continue monitoring Pinna Nobilis, especially in Boka, but also outside the bay where it has not been done so far," said Dr. Joksimović.
Her colleague, Dr. Rajko Martinović, presented in detail the results of the "PinnaSPOT" project, pointing out that it was performing at three locations in Boka Bay - underwater at Cape Sveta Nedjelja, Orahovac and Sveti Stasije in Dobrota. An analysis of the data and density of the settlements, sediments, seagrasses growing around shells, and oceanographic characteristics of the aquatics was performed, comparing the data obtained with the results in Spain and Italy. It has been shown that the settlement of Pinna Nobilis at Sveta Nedjelja is much denser than in other observation locations in the country and abroad.
Kotor's scientists have also tried artificial pond-breeding, succeeding in raising a 4cm centimeter small shell to a size of over 20 centimeters.
"It is essential to continue researches in the current situation of the mass seaweed in the Mediterranean so that we can find out what affects the resistance of the shells to the parasitic attack in some aquariums and whether it is possible that shellfish in some specific areas such as Boka meanwhile reinforce its natural immunity," said Dr. Martinovic.
Prince Albert II Foundation Vice President, Bernard Fautrier thanked all the participants of the "PinnaSPOT" project so far, pointing out that when the project started three years ago, the situation with the Mediterranean was regular, but now because of the massive mortality of this shellfish in Spain, Greece, France, Tunisia, Cyprus and Italy, it is alarming.
"The situation is now dramatic and urges the need for science to respond to what is happening to save what still could be saved. We are therefore ready to continue supporting this new dimension of your project," said Fautrier.