Snake Island (Zmiinyi Island) is the most remote part of land on the map of Ukraine. Until recently, it attracted the attention of only biologists. But in recent months, this small rock managed to become a symbol of the indomitable Ukrainian spirit, victory and the return of the temporarily occupied lands under the control of Ukraine.
In 1998, a national zoological reserve of national significance “Zmiinyi Island” was created by Presidential Decree. It included a part of the island with an adjacent 500-meter water area of the Black Sea with a total area of 232 hectares. Such a decision at the highest state level was not made by chance.
Biologists have identified 197 species of flowering plants, 71 species of lichens, 241 species of birds, 2 species of reptiles, 3 species of amphibians and more than 300 species of invertebrates on the territory of Snake Island. Almost 70 species are included in the Red Book of Ukraine. In some years, up to 45% of migratory bird species of Ukraine and neighboring Eastern European countries rest on the island. There are 58 species of fish (of which 12 are Red Book species), 3 species of dolphins and 6 species of crabs, 4 of which are also from the Red Book.
What of this incredible diversity of life survived after the battles for the island? The answer to this question will not be available soon. Although it is obvious that the nature of the island suffered. The population size of many species is very small in such a small area, and therefore the species lists for many groups previously found on the island will be significantly smaller from 2022.
For many years, a research station operated on the territory of the island. Biology students were trained here. More than a hundred biological works and even books have been written about the island.
What to do next, when the destruction on the island has already taken place? For the first time in many years, most of its area was burned, and for the first time in history, cruise missiles and other highly toxic munitions exploded on Zmiinyi.
First of all, the Ukrainian state should grant protection status to the entire water area adjacent to the island and its entire territory. Secondly, in Odesa region, it is important to create new territories of the nature reserve fund, in particular, in those few places where ecosystems similar to those affected in Zmiinyi are preserved: rocks and steppes.
We invite scientists and activists of public organizations to develop proposals for the creation of new territories of the natural reserve fund in Odesa.