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Greece is famous for its beautiful beaches and amazing coasts all over the world. Various mammals reside in the clean, blue waters of the Greek Sea, some of which are on the verge of extinction. The endangered marine life of Greece is protected by some non-governmental organizations, such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Greenpeace and Archelon. Seals, Dolphins, Whales and Sea Turtles are included among these stunning marine animals.
The Mediterranean monk seal – also known as Monachus Monachus – is a common mammal in the Greek Islands, especially in the Sporades, Crete, the Ionian Sea, and the Dodecanese. These animals live up to 45 years and their length is approximately 2.5 meters. Male and female Mediterranean monk seals can be easily distinguished since the first ones have black color, while the second ones have brown fur. A National Marine Park operates on Alonissos Island since the ’90s aiming at the protection of the seals, which are threatened by human activity and environmental pollution.
Dolphins are the epitome of intelligence and playfulness, so humans adore observing them. Several dolphin species are spotted each year in Greece, mainly in the Gulfs of Corinth and Saronikos, and in the Ionian Sea. The bottlenose dolphin is the most common species and it resides in the Corinthian Gulf. It can grow up to 2.5 meters in length and its behavior is extremely friendly and social since they form groups (communities) to “hunt” their food. The cute mammals use their echolocation ability, a sonar system that helps dolphins identify objects, in pursuit of locating their prey, in other words, fish or squids. Dolphins have a prolonged lifespan of more than 40 years.
Sometimes people are terrified by whales due to their enormous size, however, Sperm Whales that live in the Greek sea waters prove that these animals are extremely friendly. More than 200 Sperm Whales are monitored in Greece, predominantly on the Hellenic Trench (the region from Crete Island to the Ionian Sea) and also on the Aegean Sea, for instance near Mykonos Island. These mammals are as social as common dolphins, given that they form large groups, they search together for food and they communicate via echolocation.
Another whale species observed in the warm waters of Greece is False Killer Whale or Pseudorca. It is 6 meters long with an average lifespan of 60 years. Although False Killer Whales bear similarities with Orca Whale, there are some significant differences among them. For instance, Pseudorca’s color is black and grey, while Orca’s color is black and white. Additionally, False Killer Whales feed on fish and they use sonar sounds for their communication too.
The populations of Caretta – Caretta, the beautiful red-brown Loggerhead Sea Turtles, lay their eggs on the coasts of the Greek Seas and they constitute a great part of Greece’s ecosystem. These tiny mammals feed on seaweed and jellyfish yet they are endangered due to water contamination. In Zakynthos, Kefalonia and Crete Caretta – Caretta turtles are “guarded” by both organizations and volunteers who monitor the turtle activity, protect the nests and cooperate to restore the turtle habitat or take care of the injured turtles.
More about the fauna of Greece