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The Tradition of Coral Harvesting

The knowledge about coral harvesting was passed down from father to son. The most important tool was ‘inženj’, i.e. the ‘cross of St. Andrew’, made of wood loaded with a heavy stone in the middle to pull it down to the bottom.

Books could be written about the history of coral harvesting in Zlarin: the people of Zlarin were the most famous coral harvesters in the Adriatic as early as the 15th century, while one of the most important years in their rich history is 1808 when they received the exclusive right to harvest from Kvarner to Bay of Kotor.

After the discovery of new coral reefs in Sicily at the end of the 19th century, the value of corals dropped, and the people of Zlarin gradually gave up coral harvesting. In order to preserve and revive the tradition of coral harvesting, the Coral and Sponge Association was established on the island in 1931, which, in addition to fishing, had the priority of organizing the processing, which has continued to this day. However, coral was difficult to sell, the economy was in a state of crisis, and with World War II approaching, the cooperative was closed. After the war, there were attempts to revive coral harvesting and processing, and then a private grinding shop was opened on the island next to a store.

In Croatian Coral Center Zlarin the tradition of coral processing has been preserved, and even today there are still coral farms on the island.

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