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Strunjan Nature Reserve

The Strunjan Nature Reserve is a part of the Strunjan Landscape Park and encloses four kilometres long northern coast of the Strunjan Peninsula between the Simon and Strunjan Bays, together with some 200 metres wide coastal water belt. The reserve covers 160 ha, and the land: sea ratio is estimated at 1: 2.5.


Among the most distinctive parts of the reserve is the precipitous wall of the Strunjan cliffs. It is up to 80 metres high and composed of soft layers of flysch, which have been for ages shaped by winds and rain. The Strunjan cliffs form the largest known coastal flysch wall on the entire Adriatic coast. Flysch is a sedimentary Eocene rock with alternating layers of sandstone, marl and carbonate turbidite. As it is soft, its bottom part has been subjected to constant erosion by the sea, while its upper parts have been decomposed a great deal by the changing weather conditions. The results of these activities are some very interesting geological and geomorphological phenomena, such as rock shelters, microtectonic joints, partly broken rock blocks and the slanting layers of sandstone terminating in the sea and at places creating a real natural paving between the land and the sea.


These phenomena are particularly characteristic of Capes Strunjan and Kane, where thicker beds are situated just above the water surface and running almost parallel with it, with thinner layers of marl and sandstone folded and pressed above them in all possible patterns. At the foot of the cliffs, a characteristic shingle terrace was formed between the steep slope and the sea; at places it is up to seven metres wide (Bay of St. Cross), while at the two capes it is narrow and passable only when the tide is low.



On the upper edge of the cliffs, especially in erosive gorges, the typical deciduous sub-Mediterranean community of Hop-Hornbeam and Autumn Sesleria (Seslerio autumnalis - Ostryetum) developed, in which Broom (Spartium junceum) and Reeds (Arundo donax) are also abundant. Botanically most interesting is the slope of Cape Ronek, where in spite of its northern position and more or less flysch substratum the characteristic Mediterranean plants also occur.



Most interesting among them are, no doubt, the most distinctive representatives of the Mediterranean maquis, i.e. myrtle (Mirtus communis) and Strawberry - tree (Arbutus unedo). Cape Ronek is, furthermore, the only autochthonous habitat of Strawberry-tree in Slovenia.


In the marine part of the reserve, natural ecological processes, characteristic biotops, species of plants and animals, and communities have survived to this day. The sea floor is initially solid but further out covered with silt and sand. In accordance with this structure, the two basic vegetation formations are distributed - the algal overgrowth on solid floor, and the field of grass on silty floor. In the entire tide belt, the strip of Wreck (Fucus virsoides) is clearly seen, while the algal overgrowth has developed off Cape Ronek, where separate communities associated with the genus Cystoseria follow each other at different depths of the sea.



The silty and sandy floor of the Bay of St. Cross is known for its extensive sea-grass meadow, which consists of Cymodocea nodosa and Eel-grass (Zostera noltii) and it is also home to a mass of Fan mussels (Pinna nobilis) and Spirographis spallanzanii. Among the numerous animal species which inhabit the marine part of the nature reserve, there are many which have been due to various reasons proclaimed endangered. Among the better known are, apart from Fan mussels Cladocora caespitosa coral, Date shell (Lithophaga lithophaga) and two species of Spider crab (Maia sp.).


Owing to its geological and geomorphological characteristics, the great biodiversity and the fact that it represents the longest uninterrupted part of the natural coast in the entire Gulf of Trieste, the Strunjan Nature Reserve plays an important role in the preservation of our natural heritage, as well as of our ecological stability and biodiversity of the Gulf as a whole.








From the publication "Naravni rezervat Strunjan"

Published by: Medobčinski zavod za varstvo naravne in kulturne dediščine Piran

Text: Robert Turk

Photographs: Medobčinski zavod za varstvo naravne in kulturne dediščine Piran (archives), Marjan Richter, Matevž Lenarčič



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