Encounter with human fish at Vjetrenica Cave

Ljiljana Krejic | Live the World

November 23, 2022

If you happen to be in Dubrovnik, Mostar or Montenegro, you should not miss the opportunity to visit a spectacular Vjetrenica cave, the largest and the most important grotto in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Even if you are a novice to the speleology, you can expect nothing but an unforgettable experience.

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Famous worldwide for its karstic and speleological riches, Vjetrenica is one of the most interesting caves in the whole Dinaric Alps mountain range. Located in the southern Herzegovina, near the small town of Ravno and the medieval orthodox monastery of Zavala, this cave has in total over 6 km of passages, while the main channel is about 2,50 km long. Amongst the many archaeological discoveries are cave drawings that are estimated to be over 10,000 years old.

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Vjetrenica (which means "wind cave" or "blowhole"), owes its name to the strong blast of cold air that blows from its entrance refreshing this rocky region during the hot summer months. The cave is adorned with a number of lakes, several waterfalls, creeks. One of its main attractions is the Great lake that is about 180 m long. There are many stalactites, flowstone, draperies, cascades and others forms.

Vjetrenica is an underground treasure like no other. It is the richest cave in the world in terms of subterranean biodiversity with more than 200 different animal species, who completely adapted to life in eternal darkness. Of those, 37 were discovered and described for the very first time in this place (locus typicus), mostly crabs (Crustacea), molluscs and insects.

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Vjetrenica is a home of Human Fish (Proteus anguinus L), extremely endemic and the only European underwater vertebrate. It is also the place where they found and preserved remains of an extinct species of leopard that lived in Europe (Panthera pardus spelaea).

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Without a doubt, Vjetrenica cave is something extraordinary, and it deserves to be visited regardless of whether you are interested in speleogy or not.

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