The Archipelagos Marine Mammal Research Team has collected for over 15 years, data from stranded marine animals including sea turtles (Caretta caretta), dolphins (Stenella coeruleoalba, Delphinus delphis, Tursiops truncatus), and monk seals (Monachus monachus) from various areas of Greece. The aim of this work is to determine potential hotspots in the Greek Sea and then to understand which factors influence the occurrence of these events.

The stranding database includes historical data for example the first stranding logged in our database is from 1949. From this vast stranding database many of the animals strand already dead, of these dead strandings we have recorded 272 cases, ranging from unknown deaths to deliberate kills. In recent months especially, we have received over 15 cases of 40 in which we identified the cause of death as a deliberate kill. Cases comprised of mostly C. caretta, found without head and foreleg or hindleg cut off. In particular there are examples of how cruel some human beings can be; a stranded dolphin was found without a fluke; a monk seal (Monachus monachus), which was found dead with a stab wound and several gunshot wounds. Unfortunately, we cannot bring anyone to justice with no evidence.

However it is hoped that the members of the island communities share our frustration about these crimes and will help by gathering evidence to locate those who murdered these rare marine animals. In some cases this evidence may be taken to the police authorities and subsequently to court.

It is therefore important that we join forces with the local communities, to protect our marine environment and its beautiful creatures through raising awareness with our marine mammal and marine conservation projects.

Simultaneously our research team is working to improve the data-collection protocols and outreach methods, so that we can create a complete map of the data throughout the Greek Seas.

Alexandra Hanusch,

BSc Biology, University of Bremen, Germany