When the tourist hustle and bustle on the coast subsides, when the fog rolls in and the leaves start to fall off the trees, that's the time for a trip to the Coast. Time for the Cemetery of Shells.
Slovenia's coastline is only 46 km long, and statistically, each of us has only 2 cm of coastline. But despite the small size of our coastline, it has everything the big ones have. And the special feature of the Slovenian sea is certainly the dune at Sveti Katarina near Ankaran. The dune is not only made of sand, but the sand is dominated by snail houses and shells. The locals call it a cemetery of shells.
Shellfish and snail cemetery
The shellfish cemetery was created after 1990, when the Port of Koper dredged the seabed for the second pier. The seabed was dredged north of the mouth of the Rižana River in Polje Bay, between Ankaran and Koper. Then the rain gradually washed away the mud, leaving only shells. Or, to be more precise, only the shells of molluscs remained, as there are more snail houses than shells. They counted 234 species of molluscs, the most beautiful of which are the heart clam, the scallop clam, the boat clam and the snail house snail, the stocky ox.
The silt has also created a unique ecosystem around the dunes, which provides excellent habitat for animals. Here you can see swans, little and great egrets, rabbits and many other species of animals. Children will surely be the most enthusiastic about the shellfish pond, as the thousands of small and large shells are a real treat for them.
In addition to the shells, St Catherine's is home to the only Salt meadow in the Mediterranean. It is on the other side of St Nicholas. The salt meadow is a marshy dune, with muddy, wet and salty soils. This has led to the development of a special type of meadow, which is protected for its botanical features. The meadow is a haven for many birds, but mussels and crabs can also be found. The meadow can be walked on raised footpaths.
What is most beautiful is that this spring, the Municipality of Ankaran replaced and extended the wooden bridge bridge, which is also a nature trail. You can walk along the more than 600 m long wooden footbridge, which leads through a coastal marsh ecosystem, one of the few on the eastern Adriatic coast, where, among other plant species, the endangered species of sea flax and eelgrass thrive.
Drive towards Ankaran and then turn left towards Sveti Katarina a few hundred metres after the barracks. You can park in the car park next to the football field and walk along the mandrake to the dune. Turn left to the shell cemetery and right to the salt meadow.