On the shores of Šibenik-Knin County, a dragon is stirring. For as long as anyone can remember he has slept here. Famously, he rests next to the Adriatic and Marina Frapa, one of the most beautiful yacht harbours of the Mediterranean. Indeed, this giant – Rogoznica Dragon’s Eye Lake – is one of the most iconic natural features of the mainland’s coast.
He’s at least 10, 000 years old, so local residents are used to having him around. However, he’s recently become a lot more famous for two distinct reasons.
© Vlado Franolić
Firstly, the rise in drone photography has successfully unlocked the startling beauty Rogoznica Dragon’s Eye Lake gifts this varied landscape. Secondly, over the last two decades a successive stream of scientific researchers have arrived to study these unique waters. They have poked and prodded, taken samples and photos. Their published findings have lead to the current awakening. Rogoznica Dragon’s Eye Lake now looks set to become a nationally protected Nature Monument.
Today, 23 November 2021, Šibenik-Knin County assembly is formally launching the process to obtain the official protected status for Rogoznica Dragon’s Eye Lake. Classification as a Nature Monument (Spomenik prirode or prirodna baština in Croatian) is sought to preserve the original natural values of a place or object. The protection is awarded because of the rarity, uniqueness or beauty of a natural monument, its value to science or its value to surrounding ecosystems. Rogoznica Dragon’s Eye Lake meets each of those criteria.
Rogoznica Dragon’s Eye Lake aka Zmajevo oko jezero
© Dream Division Split / Rogoznica TZ
This elliptical-shaped lake was formed after the end of the last ice age. After all the ice melted, sea levels rose a massive 100 metres. When that happened, the Adriatic penetrated through cracks in the wall of a sinkhole located on the Gradina peninsula. The sinkhole became Rogoznica Dragon’s Eye Lake.
The lake has a maximum measured depth of 15 metres. It is surrounded on all sides surrounded by vertical rocks that range between 4 and 24 metres in height. These walls protect a unique hydrological and geomorphological phenomenon and ecosystem.
Below the water surface, the lake is connected to the open sea by a large cave. At the bottom of the lake is a thick bottom layer of hydrogen sulfide. This creates an environment that is, in parts, extremely low in oxygen. It also produces a meromictic lake – one which has layers of water that do not usually intermix.
This combination creates a challenging but unique set of conditions for the sea creatures and plants that inhabit the lake. Although, for the former, their residence can be somewhat transitory. From time to time, the lake waters become uninhabitable. Its sea creatures are forced to leave the lake en masse and head out into the open seas. They only return when the lake waters are purified.
To people of the locale, Rogoznica Dragon’s Eye Lake has held a fame long before the drone cameras and scientists arrived. Myth and legend surround the lake and its formation. Some believe the sinkhole is actually a crater left by a falling meteor. Others say that long ago, a dragon really used to live here. The awarding of Nature Monument status ensures these entertaining stories will be retold long into the future.
If you want to read more about Rogoznica, read our Total Croatia guide here. And if you want to keep up with news from Šibenik-Knin County, keep an eye on Total Croatia News’s tagged pages here