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Coral reefs of Prut River

Country: Moldova      Region: North Region

According to the latest historical research, Cobani village, situated at about 200 km from Chisinau, is the place with the earliest attested documents on the territory of the republic, that is, during the year of 1374, when it was called Zubreuti. Along the Prut river, nearby this village, lies one of the most impressive natural monuments in the country: a range of toltrels, something specific to the higher part of the Prut zone and is unique for Europe .

Scientists have called this chain of natural pearls a range of coral or limestone reefs, while the local people have called them “tiglae”, and the professional literature presents them as “toltrels”, a word coming from Polish.

“The Reefs of Prut” or “The Toltrels” are concentrated on a small area covering the small rivers Larga, Vilia, Lopatnic, Draghiste, Racovat, Ciuhur and Camenca, rivers that flow into the Middle Prut. Even though some of the reefs are quite fragmented the chain is integral and lies on a distance of about 200 km. Thus, if we want to locate “The Toltrels of the Prut”, they are not situated directly on the bank of the Prut, but in the basin of the rivers afferent to it, at some kilometers away from the left bank of the Prut.

The chain of the limestone reefs is formed of remnants of corals, shellfish, algae, animals and sea creatures, that used to fill the tropical Tortonian and Sarmatic seas 10-20 million years ago. These Basarabian reefs have the same history as the great coral chain in Australia, except the latter is almost fully under water with cliffs coming out of the ocean 2-5 meters high, while our reefs go over 100 meters. Our reefs are overland, so their splendor and grandeur can be easily admired.

3 km away from Camenca River there is a reef fragmented into 2 parts, one being “The Edge of the Reef” and the other “The Great Reef”. One of these grottoes hides a human station of the Paleolithic and Mesolithic eras. There have been found fossils and tools made of flint in strata of 5 meters depth. There still are remnants of a Neolithic fortress on the reefs, which is protected by the abrupt cliffs and by a wall of ground.

It might sound unbelievable, but of all Europe, from the Straits of Gibraltar to the Urals, only in Moldova one can see and study such miracles of nature full of mystery.