Mediterranean Red Coral As An Object Of Marine Ecotourism


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  • Different studies have different results—GFCM mentions 4-8mm per year in height and some scientists are looking at how the basal diameter is related to age.
    The effective disperal range of red coral larvae (planalae) is limited to 100 km.
  • Modern Mediterranean red coral necklace from Bulgari.
  • Fifteenth century painting by Piero della Francesca of a Madonna and child adorned with a coral necklace.
  • Wooden statue of St. Mary of Constantinople, patron saint of corallini in the church of the same name in Torre del Greco.
  • In “Red coral: conservation and management of an overexploited Mediterranean species,” scientist Marco Abbiati says the Mediterranean overall yield as reduced to 1/3 over the last 15 years.
    Red coral harvesting date supplied to the FAO by the coral-processing sector represents estimates, rather than precise fishing records, and is likely to be an underestimation of the overall Med yield. Although not completely reliable, it is the only data available.
  • Basilio Liverino and Company Logo
  • "Christ between Thieves" – Sculpture in Mediterranean coral. Sicilian workmanship—17th century. Basilio Liverino’s Museum of Coral and Cameos.
  • Leaves and yield - Mediterranean Coral and gold - torrese Manufacture - Liverino Museum
  • Deep Red by Basilio Liverino
  • View of Diocletian’s Palace from the harbor
  • Luxor Cafe
  • CITES--Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
  • Mediterranean Red Coral As An Object Of Marine Ecotourism

    1. 1. Mediterranean red coral as an object of marine eco-tourism and cultural heritage with special emphasis on Croatia by Linda Joyce Forristal October 19, 2002 Dubrovnik, Croatia
    2. 2. What is Mediterranean red coral?
    3. 3. A Short Biology  Unlike reef-building corals, which can often be seen from the surface, Med. red coral occurs 10-250 meters deep-- divided between shallow-water and deep-dwelling populations.  Do not heavily depend on sunlight to survive, rather catches food that passes by with its polyps/tentacles.
    4. 4. A Short Biology  Occurs in small colonies or single polyps.  Natural propagation and distribution is limited to how far the larvae can swim— which is 1-10,000 meters.  Slow growth rate makes re-colonization of over-exploited areas a slow process.
    5. 5. Coral Harvesting  In Italy, coral fishermen used a rather crude device called an ignegno to trawl for coral.  This was dragged across underwater strata—including rock overhangs—in the hopes of some falling into the net.  This type of collection has been banned in most countries—replaced with sophisticated scuba diving procedures.
    6. 6. A Brief History  Taxonomically known as Corallium rubrum.  Known and used by the Phoenicians, Romans and other cultures that rim the the Mediterranean basin.  By the 14th century, Barcelona drew fame from worked coral.
    7. 7. Trade with India  By the 18th century, trade of Med. red coral to India was at its zenith.  India supplied Europe with diamonds, and Europe supplied India with red coral.  At this time, the Italian cities of Livorno, Genoa, and Naples were the center of the coral fishing and industry.
    8. 8. Torre del Greco  This small village seven miles south of Naples was the home of the corallini.  Back on land, Italian craftsmen made coral jewelry and created religious works depicting or incorporating coral.  In 1989, an est. 4,000 inhabitants made their livelihood from Corallium rubrum.
    9. 9. Torre del Greco  Site of the Museum of Coral and Cameos— brainchild of Basilio Liverino.  In 1989, the city hosted one of only two United Nations’ conferences on red coral.  In 1989, there was a strong push to add Corallium rubrum to CITES Appendix II.  Since such a designation would have been an economic death knell, representatives opted to pursue ways to preserve the species through rotating harvests and more research.
    10. 10. Coral in Croatia  The harvesting of red coral is primarily done in the waters of the Sibenik archipelago.  This includes the towns of Zlarin, Obonjian, Kaprije, Zirje, and Krapanj.  The town of Zlarin has been famed for its coral hunters since the 15th century.
    11. 11. Ecotourism and coral  The biology of Mediterranean red coral makes marine eco-tourism in relation to the species almost impossible—if not dangerous for the average tourist/diver.  Perhaps best achieved by sailing around Zlarin with an experienced guide who knows the history of the area and coral.
    12. 12. Changing conditions  In 1992, Croatia reported to the FAO the collection of 3,300 kg of Corallium rubrum, as compared to 1,500 kg in 1999—harvest fell by about 50%.  A recent article in the Croatian journal Priroda (Nature), reported that most of the red coral sold in Croatia is harvested off the coast of Algeria.
    13. 13. A red coral museum  Most visitors to Croatia know nothing of harvesting methods, distribution, and traditional cultural uses of red coral.  Hence, an interpretative museum devoted to Mediterranean red coral could be designed to lead the tourist/visitor on their own road of discovery.
    14. 14. Liverino/Smithsonain model  Croatia’s museum could focus on Mediterranean red coral exclusively, especially Croatian folk customs.  The museum could include artful displays of red coral, corallini gear, demonstrations of jewelry making, point-of-sale for coral objects, and home base for scientific research.
    15. 15. Where is the best place?  Zlarin—a small island—has limited modern accommodations and major infrastructure problems and many inhabitants live at the poverty level.  Government would have to adopt and help create an integrated approach—including promotion of artisanal cheeses, olive oil, wine, and indigenous handicrafts from Zlarin and the surrounding islands.
    16. 16. Where is the best place?  Sibenik is more developed, but still a bit off the beaten path.  Split—the largest coastal city near Sibenik/Zlarin and active cruise ship port—is the site of Diocletian’s palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
    17. 17. Coral museum benefits  An exciting tourist destination that tells the story of Mediterranean red coral.  A site for the authentication and sale of red coral truly collected in Croatian waters as opposed to coral collected in sites around the Mediterranean basin— letting the tourist go home with a real Croatian souvenir.
    18. 18. Coral museum benefits  A place to centralize Croatian scientific efforts to preserve Corallium rubrum as a viable commercial species, which would stave off efforts to add the species to Appendix II of CITES.  A place to pursue better knowledge of population dynamics, life-history traits, and genetics—as regards cultivation efforts.
    19. 19. Issues to address  Since populations show genetic differentiation, there might be reason to call for regional management of the species, such as Croatia’s Sibenik archipelago.  Work toward a common policy of red coral conservation—define harvesting parameters such as min. colony and polyp size, max. yield per area & season that all Med. countries can live with.