2004, pp 291-306

The Current Status of Adriatic Fish Biodiversity

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The western part of the Balkan Peninsula is bordered by the Adriatic Sea, a small semi-enclosed sea connected to the Eastern Mediterranean via the Strait of Otranto. It was named by ancient Greek geographers, referring to the city Adria, at the mouth of the Po River (Cushman-Roisin et al., 2001). Apart from the Black Sea, the Adriatic is the northernmost part of the Mediterranean; this has a significant influence on its physical characteristics even in its southernmost waters. The Adriatic is 783 km long, with a mean width of 243 km. Its surface area, including the islands, amounts to 138,595 km2 or about 4.6% of the total Mediterranean area. In the south, the Adriatic Sea is separated from the Ionian Sea by the 72 km wide Strait of Otranto. The eastern coast is steep and composed of limestone, with a rapidly deepening narrow shelf and a large number of both small and large islands, whilst the western coastal shelf is wider due to accumulation of river sediments, and has almost no islands. The Adriatic Sea is rather shallow, with the shelf making up about 74% of the sea bed. It is generally divided into three geographic regions: the Northern Adriatic, the Middle Adriatic and the Southern Adriatic (Figure 1) (Gačič et al., 2001). The North Adriatic is very shallow and strongly influenced by the rivers of northern Italy, and the Po in particular. The Middle Adriatic is deeper, reaching 280 m in the Jabuka Pit. It is separated from the Southern Adriatic by the Palagruža Sill (180 m depth). The Southern Adriatic is much deeper (the South Adriatic Pit reaches 1,233 m).