Before jetting off on any beach holiday, it’s important to know what to expect from your trip to the seaside. And learning more information about sharks in Croatia is not a bad idea.
One of the first things that comes to mind when you think of Croatia is the pristine beaches and crystal clear waters. Or perhaps it’s lavender? The Croatian coastline is renowned for being a wonderful swim and sailing spot and visiting Croatia without taking a dip in the sea would be a big mistake.
While the Adriatic Sea may look inviting from the shore, there is a hidden world of sea creatures lurking in the water. There are thousands of species of fish and marine animals in the Adriatic Sea that snorkelling will only offer a glimpse at.
Many people often fear that Mediterranean locations will have some dangerous creatures in their oceans and it’s not wrong to be a bit sceptical. This post will answer all of your burning questions about sharks in Croatia.
Are There Sharks in Croatia?
Yes, there are sharks in Croatia. But don’t immediately scrunch up in fear…they’re probably nothing like the sharks you’re visualising.
The Adriatic Sea, along the Croatian coast, is home to several shark species, including the small-spotted catshark, blue shark, and, occasionally, the sandbar shark.
While these sharks may not be as well-known as those in warmer, tropical waters, they play a vital role in the Adriatic’s marine ecosystem.
Conservation efforts are in place to protect these creatures, emphasising the importance of sustainable fishing practices and marine protected areas to ensure the survival of these fascinating marine animals in Croatia’s waters.
What Marine Life is in the Adriatic Sea?
The Adriatic Sea, nestled between the Italian Peninsula and the Balkan Peninsula, is a semi-enclosed body of water known for its exceptional biodiversity.
The Adriatic Sea boasts a wide range of marine species, making it a paradise for divers and marine enthusiasts.
One of the most intriguing aspects of the Adriatic’s marine life is its resident shark species, which include the small-spotted catshark, blue shark and the sandbar shark and a closely related Adriatic sturgeon.
The Adriatic sturgeon is a prehistoric-looking creature that can reach lengths of up to 4 metres. Historically, it was a prized species for its caviar, which led to overfishing and a sharp decline in its population.
Fortunately, conservation efforts have been brought in in recent years to protect this endangered species. The Adriatic sturgeon is known to inhabit the deeper parts of the Adriatic Sea, making it a rare but thrilling sight for divers.
Although not a shark, the Adriatic sturgeon looks very similar to a shark due to it’s body composition and colouring.
The small-spotted catshark, also known as the lesser spotted dogfish, is a common shark species in the Adriatic. You’ll likely have seen this shark in aquarium touch pools or tanks.
Its distinctive appearance, with small dark spots on its back and sides, makes it easily recognizable. These small sharks are usually found in rocky and coastal areas, where they feed on fish and crustaceans.
Divers often encounter them in the shallower waters of the Adriatic, making them a popular subject for underwater photography.
The blue shark is one of the more famous species in the Adriatic Sea, known for its striking blue coloration and graceful swimming.
These sharks are migratory and can often be spotted in the open waters of the Adriatic, especially during the summer months. Blue sharks are relatively docile and pose little threat to humans, making them a sought-after sight for divers.
The sandbar shark, also known as the thickskin shark, occasionally visits the Adriatic Sea. These sharks prefer warmer waters, but as sea temperatures rise due to climate change, their presence in the Adriatic has become more common.
Sandbar sharks are known for their distinctive tall dorsal fin and are typically found in deeper waters.
Croatia’s Shark Conservation Efforts
Croatia is very aware of the rising endangerment of sharks and the overfishing that is affecting their populations. Sharks in the Adriatic Sea are facing many factors that can affect their ability to hunt and survive.
While overfishing is one of the most prominent causes of decline, habitat degradation, and climate change are two other threats. Croatia, along with other countries bordering the Adriatic, has taken several measures to protect sharks and other marine animals.
- Croatia has implemented strict fishing regulations to protect vulnerable shark species. These regulations include size and catch limits, as well as seasonal bans on fishing in certain areas.
- The establishment of MPAs (Marine Protected Areas) in the Adriatic has provided safe havens for marine life, including sharks. These areas are crucial for preserving biodiversity and allowing shark populations to thrive.
- Ongoing scientific research in the Adriatic Sea helps monitor shark populations, understand their behaviour, and assess the effectiveness of conservation measures. This data is invaluable for making informed conservation decisions.
This website allows the general public and researchers to track species of shark and other marine animals to keep tabs on what they are up to and establish patterns in their movement.
Shark Attacks in Croatia
Shark attacks in Croatia and surrounding countries are extremely rare.
While the Adriatic is home to many species of shark and fish, the vast majority do not pose a threat to human life.
The most commonly encountered sharks, such as the small-spotted catshark and blue shark, are generally harmless and pose no significant danger to beach-goers or swimmers. In fact, they’ll likely have zero interest in you or want to swim away.
Shark attacks in Croatia are exceptionally rare, with no recent reported cases of serious incidents. The country’s beaches and coastal areas remain safe for tourists, allowing them to enjoy the stunning Adriatic Sea without any necessary concern about shark encounters.
If you’re still a bit sceptical then don’t swim too far from the shore or only swim in designated swim areas at the beach.
Can You Swim with Sharks in Croatia?
Swimming with sharks in Croatia is not too easy. The sharks prefer to be left alone and lots of the time they swim by themselves making them hard to spot and track.
You’re unlikely to see them on your trip to Croatia unless you really go out of your way to find them (perhaps in an aquarium!)
Given that shark attacks are so rare, it actually reflects well that spotting a shark might be quite difficult too. You’d have to be far out at sea on a boat to see a fin swim by or be brave and take a dive.
Most of the sharks in the Adriatic prefer deeper waters and so the only way to see them is by diving. Options are quite limited if you’re looking to do an excursion to dive in Croatia but there are a few companies you could consider.
If you’re staying close to Medulin or can take a trip to the area then you should definitely consider a diving tour with this company. This diving centre in Medulin has some excellent reviews and excursions to go diving.
You don’t have to be a SCUBA diving expert, but some experience would be beneficial. While there is no guarantee that you will be swimming with sharks, there are excursions to reefs that will have plenty of other wildlife to explore.
You can also explore lots of ship wrecks with the experienced teams.
Smaller sharks are found closer to the shore so you might be in luck and see a small-spotted catfish, but again, with large crowds and disruption at beaches, it would be unlikely that the small creatures would come close enough for you to swim near.
While travelling Croatia you’ll likely come stay in Dubrovnik for at least a few days and one of the best places to snorkel is at Dubrovnik’s beaches. You might get lucky and spot small shark species or tropical fish here.
The beaches definitely make Dubrovnik worth visiting.
Ocean Tours in Croatia
If you’re just interested in life beneath the surface in Croatia in general then I highly recommend taking a glass bottom boat tour on your trip to Croatia.
There are many tours departing from docks all along the coast but there are very few that you can book in advance. If you’d like to make sure that your spot on the vessel is secured ahead of time then you might want to consider this tour.
Leaving from Zadar, this Underwater Exploration Semi-Submarine Tour is a great way of getting a view down into the ocean. Spy on some of the tropical fish in the area and go on a hunt for sharks.
The tour lasts 50 minutes and allows guests to both sit above deck or in the underwater exploration area, with a full glass bottom to allow you to see the depths below.
Conclusion: Sharks in Croatia
There are a variety of sharks in Croatia and the surrounding coasts of the Adriatic Sea. You’ll likely have to venture very far out to sea to spot one but that doesn’t mean you won’t see one.
You should not be afraid to go swimming in the sea in Croatia as the likelihood of a shark attack is extremely low and most species pose no risk to humans.
The Adriatic Sea is full of marine life just waiting to be discovered. If you don’t see a shark then you’ll definitely still see some wonderful species if you choose to go swimming or on a tour.