A pelican named "Johnny" has found shelter in Divjak-Karavasta National Park for the past three years. "Johnny" can not fly due to injury, but it is not afraid of tourists who come to see him.
According to the Regional Agency for Protected Areas, the number of breeding pelican pairs here increased by one-fifth during the coronavirus pandemic, from 68 in 2019 to 85 in 2020. The Karavasta Lagoon is home to about 260 bird species.
But the "curly pelicans", as the Dalmatian pelicans are otherwise known, are the "stars of the show". This is their only nesting colony in the country.
Globally, Dalmatian pelicans are classified as "Near Threatened" on the Red List of Threatened Species. Even in Karavasta Lagoon, during the years 2001-2003, the number of breeding pairs dropped to 19, compared to 250 pairs a century ago.
In 2014, the Regional Agency of Protected Areas intervened to help. Under the leadership of Adrian Koci, a small team began to care for and create better conditions for curly pelicans. And the result was clear, hundreds of pelicans nest peacefully, undisturbed by humans.
With the extra calm brought about by the pandemic, Mr. Koci says the birds have reproduced even more. Despite the measures taken, he says intensive fishing continues to reduce the number of fish, pelicans need to feed on.
Thanks to pandemics calmness was brought to the pelicans, reducing the number of visitors to the lagoon. According to statistics during 2019 there were 550 thousand visitors. This figure was halved in 2020. Now the center hopes to attract more visitors, to raise the necessary funds.
"We are here because you have very beautiful nature, really endangered species, not the same nature as you can see in other parts of Albania", says Klara Perinova, tourist from the Czech Republic.
Despite the need for visitors, Mr. Koci says his team is trying to preserve the undisturbed nature of the lagoon.