SEDRA or TRAVERTINE
The fundamental phenomenon of the Plitvice Lakes is sedra or travertine. Running through rocks, karst water dissolves calcium carbonate that settles and sticks to everything in the water like a silver layer. Deposits of calcium carbonate build dams and that is how lakes, cascades, and waterfalls are created. Where there is more oxygen, there is more abundant deposition. Calcium carbonate crystals also stick to the mucus secreted by bacteria and blue-green algae living on the threads and leaves of mosses of Bryum and Cratoneurum genus. That is plant-formed travertine. Scientific research proved that higher temperature promotes the creation of travertine, implying that the Plitvice Lakes could not have been created in the ice age. Travertine is the soul of Plitvice Lakes, making them a fragile structural complex. The barriers are very sensitive to draining, changes in water chemical composition, and physical influences. Wooden bridges and paths above the travertine barriers make sure that travertine formations remain protected from possible mechanical damage.
THE FOREST IN THE PLITVICE LAKES
The forests around the Plitvice Lakes have significant ecological value because they prevent erosion and balance water relations in the ground. The virgin forest of beech and fir in Čorkova uvala (Čorak basin) is unusual to the forest ecosystem. It grows along the hillsides of Mala Kapela, covering the area of 80 hectares (5). Among the three virgin forests in Croatia, Devčića Tavani in Senjsko Bilo and those in Lička Plješivica, Čorkova Uvala is considered the most beautiful. These virgin forests are the very last remains of virgin forests that once covered the European continent. They represent all grades of forest growth and development: forestation, its optimal condition, aging and decomposition. Tall trees of fir, spruce, and beech may grow over 50 m in height. The diameter of such trees is larger than 1.5 m. Čorkova Uvala carries the status of a special reserve of forestry vegetation. The variety of life in a virgin forest is vast. Dead trees create soil on otherwise poor karst surface. The soil provides a shelter and food to the living beings such as bacteria, fungi, insects, and various plants. The forests also provide home to wolf and bear.
Systematic studies of higher plants conducted by Šegulja and Krga, as late as in 1984, confirmed that the Park was also a unique phenomenon in terms of the abundance and diversity of higher plant flora. In the Park’s relatively small area there have been recorded 1,267 plant species belonging to 112 plant families.Due to its diversity, presence of relict, endemic, rare, and protected species, many of which are listed in the Croatian Red Book of Plant Species and the IUCN Red List of Endangered Plant Species, the Park is designated as an exceptionally valuable floristic area not only in Croatia, but also in Europe and the world. The Park area is rich in narrowly or more widely distributed endemic species (72). Of special value are the endemic species described for the first time in this area: narrow-leaved bellflower (Edraianthus tenuifolius), Thor’s buttercup (Ranunculus scutatus), and the Dalmatian scilla (Scilla litardierei) a species abundantly distributed in the vegetation of the Park’s lowland wet meadows. The Park is also recognised for its many species protected by the Nature Protection Act of Croatia (22 species), of which we should single out the lady’s slipper – the most beautiful orchid in Europe. Being a rare and endangered forest plant, it is listed in the Croatian Red Book of Plant Species and the IUCN Red List under the category of endangered taxa. A special group of the Park's flora consists of a considerable number of rare and interesting species of Croatian flora. The Siberian leopard plant (Ligularia sibirica) is a species that deserves special attention.
Another curiosity of the Park is its carnivorous plants. The common sundew (Drosera rotundifolia) grows on the peat bogs in the Park area. Due to the rareness of such habitats, this plant belongs to the rare species of Croatian flora. In the vegetation of the Park’s lowland wet meadows we can find the common butterwort (Pinguicula vulgaris) – a rare carnivorous plant on the IUCN Red List in the category of vulnerable taxa, as well as the lesser bladderwort (Utricularia minor) – a very rare aquatic carnivorous plant.
When we mention the animal world of the Plitvice Lakes National Park, the first animal that comes to mind is its trademark – the brown bear. However, the Park’s highly diverse fauna is far greater and more valuable than the “fame” of its most attractive representative.
By their number of species, insects are the most represented in the terrestrial habitats and have sparked the interests of biologists researching the meadow and forest habitats. Deserved attention is given to a group of moths and butterflies (Lepidoptera), whose number of known species according to current research has risen to 321, of which 76 are diurnal, and 245 species are nocturnal. Researchers presume that this number constitutes only 40-50% of the potential Lepidoptera fauna. Certain habitats have been protected in the effort to preserve conditions for an undisturbed development cycle of certain important species, especially the blue butterfly of the genus Maculinea. Researchers have also explored the caddisfly group, and so far have recorded 80 species.
The features of the Plitvice Lakes and their tributaries are generally typical of trout-inhabited alpine waters. However, allochthonous populations of chub and rudd have significantly suppressed the brown trout, indigenous to these lakes. In addition, at least four more species have been proved to inhabit the waters of Lake Kozjak.
The 157 bird species recorded so far is the third largest population of birds among the national parks of Croatia. Particularly interesting is the white-throated dipper – a rare bird dependent on clean aquatic habitats. The Plitvice Lakes National Park is also home to 50 mammal species: dormouse, shrew, vole, hedgehog, pine marten, beech marten, wild boar, and others. Recent studies have determined 20 bat species living in different habitats, such as holes, caves, underneath tree bark, tree hollows, and so on. Particular interest is often aroused by the population of wolf, roe deer, red deer, wildcat, lynx, otter, and of course the brown bear from the beginning of our story, as the crown winner of the Plitvice animal kingdom.
MILKA TERNINA (1863 -1941)
Milka Ternina was born at Vezišće, Moslavina, on 19 December 1863.
She was a Croatian opera singer (soprano), the greatest among a number of distinguished singers whom Croatia gave to the world in the 19th and 20th centuries. She was celebrated as one of the greatest singers of her time, with beautiful, powerful and carrying voice and perfect singer's technique, of gracious stage appearance, noble face and - especially pointed out - unique, magic acting.
She sang also in Bayreuth, Prague, Venice, Moscow, Zurich, Zagreb and USA and was most admired in the Royal Opera Covent Garden in London and in Metropolitan Opera in New York. She was the second best paid singer in the history of Metropolitan Opera: the mezzo-soprano Emma Calvé was earning 1800 American dollars and Ternina 1250 dollars per performance; the earnings of Enrico Caruso, her partner in Tosca, never came close to those of Ternina. During her career from 1882 to 1906, when she had to withdraw from stage for facial nerve disorder, she sang 64 roles in 59 operas composed by 34 composers. In some operas, especially by Mozart and Wagner she sometimes alternated in two roles. Although she performed in most diverse operas of Italian, German, and French style, she was best known by her interpretalions of Wagner's heroines and drew special attention when performing in Mozart's operas.
, we can still hear Milka Ternina today, since the most beautiful falls at Plitvice Lakes, which always whirr and babble, are named after her. Let us end this text with the words of Milka Trnina: "An artist's life is hard and arduous; if I could However come to live once again, and if I would have the choice, I would never choose another profession.»