The Mediterranean is a unique sea with exceptional biodiversity within its waters. Although it represents only 0.8% of the seas worldwide, it supports 7% of the all existing marine species. Even though the rich biodiversity spans across the Mediterranean Sea, 25 hotspots have been found in the Eastern Basin alone, which covers the Levantine and Aegean Sea.
The Aegean Sea covers an area of approximately 214,000 km2 and holds thousands of smaller and larger islands and islets in its waters. The Aegean Sea composes one of the most biodiverse regions in the entire Mediterranean. It hosts 12 marine mammal species that are at risk and supports extensive areas of priority protected habitats, including Posidonia seagrass beds and Coralligene reefs. The marine ecosystems of the region also support hundreds of fish species and thousands of invertebrate species.
All of the above highlight the magical world of the Greek seas, but the fact that this biodiversity still survives seems to be purely by luck since few protection or conservation measures are in place. This is a great challenge that all actions of Archipelagos aim to address.
With over 18,000 km of coastline and one of the largest fishing fleets in Europe, the monitoring of marine activities combined with conservation of ecosystems and species in Greece is not a simple task. For over a decade, Archipelagos has been collecting data and monitoring important ecosystems of the region, assessing habitats and populations as well as the different factors impacting them. Knowledge acquired in this way enables us to develop successful, targeted management and conservation plans.
The Greek seas support a rare biodiversity of marine fauna, including thousands of species of fish, invertebrates and marine mammals. Several species of dolphins, whales, sea turtles and sharks, as well as the endangered Mediterranean monk seals can be found in the eastern Aegean alone. Archipelagos’ researchers study these rare animals and analyze the effects of jellyfish blooms in the Greek waters.
Two particularly important marine habitats found in the Aegean are Posidonia oceanica seagrass meadows and deep water coralligenous reefs. These habitats harbor high levels of biodiversity, including many commercially important fish species. They also provide a vast array of ecosystem services, such as fish nursery grounds, carbon sequestration and protection of the coast against erosion. Archipelagos protects littoral ecosystems, as they are key feeding and breeding spots for sea turtles, fish and seabirds. Our marine team focuses its efforts on introducing effective management and conservation plans for these vital habitats.
Human activity in the eastern Aegean is inseparable from the sea, and it has been so for thousands of years. It can be seen in the forms of fisheries and shipping, but also coastal urban developments and pollution. Very often such activities have catastrophic consequences, including maritime accidents, oil spills and the depletion of fish stocks. Combined, these factors cause a biodiversity decline and prevent future generations from enjoying the beauty of the Mediterranean. Archipelagos’ research focuses on fisheries management and shipping risk control, with the aim of minimizing the impact we have on our oceans.