The largest natural lake in Croatia is located right by the sea, in Zadar and Šibenik-Knin counties, more precisely near the town of Benkovac. Apart from its geographical position, Vrana Lake is also specific in its origin. In essence, it is a karst field filled with water, which is a rare example of cryptodepression - a depression filled with water whose surface is above and the bottom below sea level. As the only boundary between fresh lake and salt sea water is porous limestone soil, part of the sea water passes to the lake and makes it saltier. The connection between the lake and the sea is also evidenced by species such as the mullet and eel that inhabit Lake Vrana and are typical marine species.
By far the most famous inhabitants of the lake are the birds. As many as 65% of all bird species in Croatia permanently or occasionally reside around Vrana Lake. Many shallow birds such as sandpipers, herons and spoonbills feed and live in the shallow waters of the north-western shore of the lake. This part of the lake has been declared a special ornithological reserve and included in the list of important ornithological areas in Europe. The purple heron, a trademark of the Nature Park, also lives here. It got its Croatian name (dangler) because of its patience when hunting - it is often motionless for a long time while hunting its prey.
The shore of the lake is largely covered by a thick layer of reeds. Apart from being a wetland habitat, it has a very interesting role in the purification of lake waters. Due to the natural permeability of the calcareous soil, nutrients are leached from agricultural areas into the lake. Reeds located on the border between these two areas absorb these nutrients to use them for their own growth. In this way, the soil remains significantly richer in nutrients, which enables the life of many rare and endangered species. There are 95 legally protected and 51 legally protected plant species in the Park area.
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