Flora and Fauna
One of the elements that make Skadar/Scadar/Scutari Lake so unique and well know in the world is its flora and fauna, that is it wealth of the plant and animal world. The abundant vegetation has always fascinated biologists from this country as well as world wide. But besides biologist, this area is interesting for regular people simple because while traveling the Skadar/Scadar/Scutari Lake it fascinates with its beauty, and with its diversity hooks the traveler into a desire to dedicate more time for its exploration.
The flora of the Skadar/Scadar/Scutari Lake contains many Mediterranean and continental species. The flora includes more then 25 rare and endangered species among which is the Skadar dub (Quercus robur scuteriensis) and water chestnut (Trapa natans scutariensis). Large areas of the lake are covered in marshes that are covered in white water lilies (Nymphea alba) and yellow water lilies (Nuphar luteum), and the waters along the shore are covered by bamboo (Fragmites communis). This bamboo is exactly what makes the lake very desirable for the lakes large number of bird species. Especially attractive are the many types of endangered plants growing in the Skadar/Scadar/Scutari Lake territory such as: Fritilaria gracilis, Crocus dalmaticus, Edraianthus tenuifolius, Ramondia serbica, and many protected orchids (Ophrys).
According to the latest research and studies done of the lake it is a fact that the Skadar/Scadar/Scutari Lake has 930 types of algy in all their forms. From this number 246 are new types of algy, and 135 are very rare in the entire world.
The territory of the lake contains, besides wetlands and bamboo, a large number of forests for which variety of elements, climate, hydrographic, geologic and many other specifics, as well as geographic location, are responsible for. We will name a number of these forests: Carpinetum orientalis punicosum – oak forest, Quercetum confertae cerris – bitter oak forest, Quercetum cerri – forest of white willows, Quercus robus ssp. Scutariensis, Fraxinus oxicarpa, Periploca graeca and many more.
At the present time, the protection of the biological diversity of Skadar/Scadar/Scutari Lake is one of the most important priorities of Montenegro, a country long declared an Ecological state.
Skadar/Scadar/Scutari Lake is an ecological kingdom, a quiet oasis and a place for personal contact with nature intact. The lake is the largest lake reserve in Europe with more then 50 types of fish can be found predominantly types of carp and bleak. In the National park are of the Skadar/Scadar/Scutari Lake 39 types of fish are available with the most predominant being: Alburnus alburnus alborella – bleak, Cyprinus caprio – carp, Anguilla anguilla – gurnard, Mugil cephalus – gray muffet, Lisa ramanda, and many more. The animals the inhabit the lake on a temporary basis are: Tropidontus natix – snake, Emysorbicularis – swamp turtle, Ophis aurus apodus – lizard slowworm and many more.
Skadar/Scadar/Scutari Lake is a habitat for 280 species of birds some of which are on the list of endangered species. 73 species are the nesting migrant types, 18 conventional migrants, 45 are winter guests and 12 species spend the summer for nesting purposes. A good example of the endangered species is the pelican (Dalmatian pelican or Pelecanus crispus) and the Black Ibis (Pygmy cormorant Phalacrocorax pygmeus). During the spring time the migration of birds on this lake is considerable. The possibilities for bird watchers, both professional and armatures are exceptional. The lake contains a number of towers and platforms build specifically for bird watching and they have been placed in the areas of the 5 larges ornithological reserves: Manastirskoj tapiji, Grmozur, Omerovoj gorici, Crnom zaru and Pancevom oku. Grmozur, besides being called the Alcatraz of Montenegro, is also known as the island of birds. Other then a habitat for local birds, the Skadar/Scadar/Scutari Lake is also a temporary resting place for migrating birds from the middle and north of Europe toward Africa. The lakes locations, directly in the zone where great zoo-geographical regions (arctic, Mediterranean and northern Africa) merge, is perfect for migration, with its average water temperature in the summer at 22 C°, and in the winter never bellow 11 degrees. A typical example of the lakes diversity is that one can find examples of African birds as well as birds domestic to the regions of western Siberia in the Skadar region. Another species that makes the lake unique is the nesting area of the Silver swan at Swan island (Galebovom ostrvu), largest of its kind in Montenegro. Some of other unique species are: Anas platyrhynchos – wild duck, Gavia imme – pilchard, Hieraaetus fasciatus – mountain eagle, Hieraatus pennatus – dwarf eagle and many more.
Mammals are not directly connected to the swamp-like biotopes of the lake, nevertheless a number of typical representatives of the species living in the Skadar region are: Neomys fodiens – water shrew, Arvicola terrestris, and Lutra lutra – otter. Amongst the mammals living on land are: Lepus europeus – rabbit, Sciurus vulgaris – squirrel, Canis lupus – wolf, Vulpes vulpes – fox, and Susus Scrofa – wild boar.
As stated before, amongst the islands inhabited by birds, the most well know is Galebovo ostrvo (Swan Island) because of the Silver Swan. An interesting fact is that there are a number of birds from the ocean that come to nest in the ‘sweet” waters surrounding the island. It is aloud to take pictures and film both the nests and birds, but it is not aloud to touch the eggs, also forbidden by law for endangered species like the swan.
The many islands are not only a cultural-historical monument of times long past, but also represent a heaven for the birds. On the island of Beska a visitor can often see flocks of wild pigeons and as well as a few small owls. On the island of Omerova gorica very often storks are all around. Amongst the bushes of laurel (bay) one can always observe around 40 nests of the grey storks, the only type of storks that is known to live in laurel. In addition to the grey there is also a species of small, white storks that live here, and both species are endangered and protected by law.
This exceptional fertility and development of the Skadar/Scadar/Scutari Lake ecosystem is a direct result of the clean water and preserved natural ambient.