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When the river rushes into a valley the rate of its flow is reduced and the flat land generously enables the river to meander and change course. Following heavy rain the seemingly calm beauty shows its wild mountain character and, looking for the shortest path, the rushing water forgets the old meanders and curves carved out before. Thus these backwaters slowly come to life and are connected with the central river bed only during large floods. When the water's flow through them stagnates they can be called dead backwaters or wetlands (''mrtvice''). Their formation, plant growth and transformation is thus a completely natural and dynamic process which is today made impossible in a large measure due to the regulation of and other interventions into running waters.
The largest area of wetlands in Slovenia is by the river Mura, where they represent a paradise for numerous plant and animal species. In this regard the expression ''mrtvica'' (mrtev means dead) could easily mislead us to think that such habitats are completely dead and that the dark depths into which a boot quickly sinks represent only stinking filth and dirtiness. . . However, the truth is completely different ''mrtvice'' are full of life!
Tiny water beetles and crabs teem in the water, colourful dragonflies shoot over the surface, if we have a bit luck we may see an endangered medicine leech in shallow water and we will certainly hear the loud choir-like croaking of green frogs. A wonderful symphony of nature is supplemented by the singing of birds among which attentive lovers of nature will find little grebe and common moor hen, while here and there the mighty grey heron which waits in ambush for an inattentive amphibian or fish, will rise above us.
The vegetation of the wetlands is extremely interesting. The older, strongly overgrown wetlands represent a favourable growing area for many endangered water and marsh plant species. Among peculiarities we should mention a small floating water fern ''plavček'' which is accompanied by the white blossoms of ''žabji šejk'', tiny green bodies of common watermeal and the water lily like leaves of ''rumeni blatnik''. Above the surface, like little golden eyes, rise yellow blossoms of the common bladderwort which catches tiny crabs under water with the help of thread like leaves, if we are lucky we will discover bunches of light pink blossoms of flowering rush by the overgrown banks, and we could go on and on...
''Mrtvica'' is a habitat with a naturally limited life expectancy. As the existing ''mrtvice'' are quite quickly overgrown and as the formation of new ones is made impossible, they are slowly but irrepressibly disappearing from the riverside landscape. On top of this, they are very convenient for dropping off garbage and filling up with surplus construction materials. A further very negative influence on the rich plant and animal ecosystem comes from the introduction of excessive quantities of fish which leads to the destruction of riverbank and water vegetation.
Therefore today, these ''mrtvice'' or wetland habitats are seriously endangered. We will only truly be able to help them when we understand them well.

Tel. : ++386 02 581 11 05 
Fax : ++386 02 584 83 34 
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Region: Pomurska
Place: Ljutomer
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Administrator : LTO Prlekija Ljutomer | ++386 2 584 83 33 | |
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