Until a few years ago, only 10 pinnaes were known to live off the Croatian coast in the Adriatic Sea. Today, the Mediterranean’s iconic oyster appears to have come back from the brink of extinction, say biologists who cared for it.
Mediterranean “Pina Noble” (Noble fin(), which resembles a giant orange clam, is one of the largest mollusks in the world, sometimes reaching 120 cm in length.
Their populations have been wiped out in Greece and other Mediterranean countries by imported protozoa Haplosporidium pinnaIt is a small parasite that first appeared in 2016 in Spain.
The pest’s arrival came on top of a variety of other threats, including phishing and anchoring.
The molluscs are also affected by illegal collecting, although they are not considered particularly palatable and were previously used mainly as bait.
Last year, a diver exploring the area north of the Istrian Peninsula in Croatia discovered a group of 20 fins.
“The news seemed unbelievable. It seemed impossible that they were alive,” he commented. Reuters Sandro Dočemović from Natura Histórica, an organization that works to protect the peninsula.
This year, biologists collected about 100 juvenile fish and transferred them to aquariums to safely grow into adults.
“We keep them here mainly so that they have as clean an environment as possible,” explained biologist Nikolina Primet.
Pinnae are filter feeders, meaning they feed by filtering organic molecules from the water, which means they help keep the sea clean.
The reason for the recovery of this species in the Adriatic Sea is still unknown, but the Croatian government is funding studies on this topic.
As Dujmović said, “A network of institutes and individuals was established along the coast to verify, research and collect.”
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