The Aegean Marine Life Sanctuary is a pioneering initiative which is expected to serve multiple important functions on the eastern Aegean island of Leipsoi. From treatment for sick and injured sea creatures to advanced scientific and environmental research, the sanctuary will also apply best practices in order to minimize its environmental footprint.
The project is the work of the Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation – in partnership with a number of universities abroad, as well as the Leipsoi municipal authority – and a dolphin rehabilitation area is currently in the making in the Bay of Vroulia. Apart from caring for injured dolphins, it will also take in animals released from European dolphinariums.
“We’ll be able to offer long-term accommodation and treatment for dolphins in a natural environment. There is nothing like it in Europe – not even the world. It will be a standard-bearer. It took us five years to find the perfect spot,” says Archipelagos director Thodoris Tsimbidis.
The sanctuary will also take in seals, turtles and other marine animals that are injured, sick or otherwise in need of care. “It will have a veterinary clinic for covering the care of most of the [animals in] the Aegean Sea and will apply the strictest and most advanced protocols for animal care,” stresses Anastasia Miliou, the institute’s head of research.
The hydrobiologist notes the importance of rehabilitation in a natural environment with real, living flora and fauna, which Archipelagos intends to enrich over time. “We will be introducing specially selected young and adult fish and invertebrates, experimenting with planting sensitive Posidonia oceanica seagrass and creating small artificial reefs,” she adds of the plans to cultivate the bay.
The dolphins, moreover, will be fed live fish from a farm off Leros instead of frozen fish, which is usually the case, in order to help them develop or maintain their natural hunting instincts and skills.
You can find out more about the sanctuary here: