Geographic location and characteristics
Skadar/Scadar/Scutari Lake is located in the so called Zeta-Skadar valley that partly belongs to the municipality of the city of Bar and partly to the municipality of the city of Podgorica. Indescribable and in many ways unique, with the size of 391km2, it is the largest lake on the Balkan Peninsula. Driving through the newly build Sozina tunnel, the lake is only a short 20 minute drive away from the Adriatic Sea. The river Bojana creates a connection between Skadar/Scadar/Scutari Lake and the Adriatic Sea though a large mountain massive that separates the two. Two thirds of the lake belongs to Montenegro, while one third belongs to the Republic of Albania. The Montenegrin part of the lake, at a size of 40000 hectares, was declared a National Park in 1983.
The most pronounced difference between Skadar/Scadar/Scutari Lake and the other three national parks is its exceptional richness of ornithofauna and ichtyofauna, as well as abundant marsh vegetation. Skadar/Scadar/Scutari Lake represents one of the most interesting habitats of this region.
The lake is a crypto depression, which means that in some parts the bottom of the lake is bellow sea level. Those places are named sublacustrine springs or eyes (“oka”). In this lake about 30 such eyes have been found. The deepest eye is called Radus, about 60 meters deep (some believe it is deeper then this, while the average depth of the lake is 6m) and is an exceptionally rich with fish. Next to this eye, other well known eyes are: Karuc (28 meters deep), Volac(24 meters deep), Krnjicko(24 meters deep), Djukovo, Kaludjerovo, Bazugursko, Bljaca, Vaskaund, etc.
During the summer the size of the lake is 370m2, while in the winter the size of the lake grows up to 540m2, but in average the lake is 475m2. The dept, during its lower water levels is at about 8m. It is 44 km long, and widest at 13km. Free flowing water makes up about 91% of the lake, while shallow waters under vegetation make up 9% of the lake, and in the north these shallow waters create a belt of swaps covering a territory of 22km2.
The lake itself has been subdivided into visibly different and unique areas:
- Veliko blato
- Malo blato
- Vucko blato
- the flooded valley of the river Crnojevic
- the hotel bay and
- the Gornje blato basin.
Skadar/Scadar/Scutari lake is a free flowing type of lake. It is an incredibly significant hydrological area and an important physical-geographic phenomenon. The largest amount of water, 62%, is delivered to the lake by the river Moraca with its smaller arms of the rivers Zeta and Cijevnom. The cold water the river brings has large amounts of sediments with which she influences the water clarity of the lake. Other large rivers flowing into the lake are Karatuna, Bazagurska, Crnojevic and Orhavstica with its smaller arm called Crmnicka. A large amount of water also comes from the rivers pouring into the Zeta valley such as: Mala Moraca, Tara, Plavnica, Zetica, Gostiljska, Pjavnik, Svinas, Mala Mrka, Velika Mrka, Kodrabutanska and the Rujela river. From the Albanian side, by the area called Malo Blato or the karstnog region, many seasonal rivers flow into the lake. There are a number of important underground rivers supplying the lake with additional water in the bay of the Crnojevic river, as well as the Karuc, Sinjca and Hotel bays. Many underground wells supply the lake with 30% of its water, and for the seasonal dept the rain is its major culprit. The river Bojana is the only one that flow out of Skadar/Scadar/Scutari lake, and as we mentioned before, flows directly to the Adriatic Sea. The concentration of phosphorus in the lake is rather low, and the murkiness of the water is the direct influence of all the sediment the rivers flowing into Skadar/Scadar/Scutari lake deposit here. The water in Skadar/Scadar/Scutari lake is completely changed about two, two and a half times per year.
Skadar/Scadar/Scutari lake was in the past a tectonic valley, actually a bay of the Adriatic. With the mountains of Tarabos and Rumija rising ever higher out of the sea, slowly the area separated itself from the sea and became a lake. As the path the river Bojana created became wider, it drained the large lake and made it into shallow, marshy areas. This is the exact reason why the roman historian Tit Livija called it a swamp, and the Illyrian tribe Laveata that lived here called it Laveatide palude. The name Balta was documented for the first time by a priest Dukljanin, and Slovenian people named the lake Blato. The lake was named Skadar/Scadar/Scutari in more recent times, just like the Albanian town that is located on its shores.
The part of the Skadar/Scadar/Scutari lake that belongs to the Bar municipality spreads from the swamps below Komarna, thru the bay of Gjusenica, thru Vucija gora and the bay of Govedji brod, over the Virpazar bay to the Obide point and coast of Seoce, Krnjica, Sestana and Krajina to the boarder with Albanina. The length of this coastline is 76km with 15km belonging to islands. The coastline available for development of tourism is only 3km long, or 5%. Most of the coastline is just to steep, mountainous, and unreachable from land, there are almost no roads along this part of the coast to the numerous peninsulas, large and small bays and beaches.
The lake has a large amount of small gulfs or bays that serve as docks, or as the locals call them limani, above which villages where erected. Above the shore of the lake, from Virpazar to the Albanian boarder, the Crmnicko field is stretching to the village of Krnjice, the Sestana field to the village of Bobovista and Krajina field to the village called Ckla.
Between the Milovic and Zabesko bay, two channels (one used in summer, one in winter) are located to the town of Virpazar at a length of 2,3km and depth of 2.5m, and are used for the traffic of boats and ships the dock of Virpazar. Southeast of this location are two islands, Grmozur and Godinjski bay with a beach Lucice.
From the Godinjski bay, the coast line extends from west to east toward the bay of Pristan where the beach Pjesacac is located. The mountain Strbina separates this bay from the bay of Radus and the dock of the village Seoce, in front of which, deep in the lake, the eye of Radus is located. The area sticking out distinctly into the lake is called Petrova Ponte, and behind it the bay named Brod and Krnjicka are situated, both surrounded by the cliffs of the mountains Buzmisa and Kuis. Next are the mountain Olosmun, underneath which the village of Podvrat, the dock Dracevic, then the cape Vucedabitski with its bay and two small islands Veliko and Malo Starcevo are nestled. Underneath Sestan, towards the lake, the cape of Sestan stretches into the lake with two bay named Brijeg and Djuravac. Between the Djuravac and Muric bays the cape of Muric has a dock build on it, and in front of this location are the small island of Golubovo and the two larger once called Velika and Mala Beska. Above Godinja, there are observing stations that overlook a unique view of the entire shoreline.
Southeast, bellow the village of Besa, a 490m beach is located and a few hundred meters inland the small lake of Pjajce can be found. The Muricka beach is situated under the village Gornji Muric, with a clean, cold water well. This beach is 560m long and with a total surface of 3920m2. This is the larges beach on our side of the Bar municipality side of the lake, made of small stones and sand, and the water is clear, clean and warm. In the immediate vicinity is the island Gorica te Omerit, or as it is more popularly known Omerova Gorica.
From the village of Besa to the cape of Maciluk is the bay of Maciluk, deeply cut into the land serves as a docking bay for boats and ships. In front of the bay are two islands: Veliki and Mali Moracnik. At the foot of the Bobovista mountain the bay of Bljaca is situated also with docks. Bellow the village of Bobovista is the Bobovista bay with its cape and two smaller bays Vani and Skijeve, and another bay called Sjerci with a cape carrying the same name. To cape Gradacki another cape named Smokovici (also with docks) is connected, then comes the underground well Gradacko eye and the island of Gradac.
Southeast of the Koscel cape and bay, the Marticki cape and bay with its docks is placed. The docks of Stitar are surrounded with numerous islands Veliki and Mali Tophalom including the Tophalsko eye, the small mountain Aljina gorica, Vranicom, Dugom goricom, Bisagom and Pjaskom goricom, and many more islands.
The Skadar/Scadar/Scutari lake was proclaimed a National Park in 1983, and furthermore as swamp region of international importance and a significant habitat for birds it was inscribed in the World’s list of Wetlands of International Importance by the Ramsar Convention in 1996. The geographical coordinates of the lake are: 19°03’ – 19°30’ east and 42°03’- 42°21’ north. The Skadar/Scadar/Scutari lake has over 60 islands called by the locals “gorice” most of which are densely covered in growth of wild pomegranates, laurels and ivies.
On the territory of the Bar municipality, in the area of the Skadar/Scadar/Scutari Lake, there are many villages and settlements. Among them is Crmnica, a place created from 23 small settlements, well known for its exceptional wine and enclosed wine cellars; then Virpazar (also known as Vir) that served in the past as the center of traffic and trade for the communities of Crmnica; followed by Ostos, the river Crnojevic, a small fishing village that was in years past the main shopping center for the area; and many more villages.
The Coast of Skadar/Scadar/Scutari Lake is indented and contains a large number of bays and islets overgrown in belt of bamboo. The coast in the southern part of the lake is pebbly. Some of the pebbly beaches are: the beach Lucice in the Godinska bay, beach Pjesacac, Muricka beach (also the largest beach on the lake with a length of 560 meters), the beach beneath the village of Besa (490 meters long), the beach at Pristan bay, and many more.
In the areas of Godinja, Duravaca and Murica a number of observation areas have been located with unique views on the entire coast and the panorama of the lake.
From ornithological reserves there are, as called by the locals: Manastirska Tapia, Grmozur, Crni Zar, Panceva eye, Manastriski Vrbis; while the reserves of the ichtyofauna are the underwater springs and the beach Murici.
The habitats that the lake contains are: 22500 hectares of water covered surfaces; 7800 hectares of surfaces covered by water throughout the entire year; 5200 hectares of flood surfaces; 12500 hectares stone and rocks on the south side of the coast as well as islands mainly out of rock; and 8128 hectares of ornithological reserves.
The climate is sub-Mediterranean with mild and rainy winters. The average temperature of the water in January is 7,3 C°. The summers are dry and hot with a maximum temperature of over 40 C°, with the water temperature just slightly above 27. The average temperature of the air year around is 14.9 C°.