The Mediterranean Sea is the home of unique marine life. A remarkable variety of fauna and flora can be observed in the Greek waters. Among them a number of rare marine species like common dolphins, monk seals and sperm whales are threatened with extinction. Despite the extremely high value of our sea life only 2% or less of local marine areas are protected. It is urgent that we act against such an unprecedented loss of biodiversity. The aim of this initiative is the study, and protection of rare marine species so as to enhance their chances of survival before they have vanished once and for all.
The Project’s main objective is the promotion of the conservation of the endangered Mediterranean monk seal at a national level through the identification of important pupping sites, the collaboration with local stakeholders and the inclusion of important pupping and resting sites in the Network of marine Natura 2000 sites in Greece.
This 3-year project (2017-2019) is funded by 1/3 by Thalassa Foundation and implemented by MOm/Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Mediterranean Monk Seal. Some funds have been secured by the National Geographic Society for “Identifying the critical habitat of the endangered Mediterranean monk seal in the Cyclades Islands” and the Euronatur Charitable Foundation, for another part of the total budget. The first area investigated upon the launch of the project was the Eastern Aegean islands, followed by Evia, the Southern Ionian islands and the whole of the Peloponnese. Next comes the island of Crete!
With the completion of this project, for the first time in history, Greece will have a complete picture and a full Status Report of the areas hosting this wonderful and endangered species. And, this information, together with an integrated Action Plan will be made available to the general public, official authorities and conservationists.
The results of the "Mapping" project have the potential to change monk seal conservation as it is presently known in Greece and have a long-standing, significant impact on the overall survival of the species.
The next step for the protection of this endangered marine mammal which could also be part of the National Action Plan to be made available in the future, is the creation of a state of the art facility for the rescue & treatment of sick and wounded monk seals.
Thalassa Foundation has already taken proactive steps by allowing MOm a large area of 850m2 for the construction of “Nautilus”, a centre for the study and rehabilitation of endangered marine life, located only 3km away from the port of Alonissos. The area has been chosen because it offers one of the largest MPAs in Europe, is also home to a significant number of monk seals and other endangered marine species. With this project by MOm, we hope to contribute in taking measures for the conservation of rare marine life of the Greek Sea.