The Aegean Sea and the region of the northern Dodecanese, supports some of the most important remaining marine mammal populations of the Mediterranean. Even though these charismatic animals are legally protected, the lack of efficient management and conservation measures has led to declining populations over the last few decades.

Marine mammals continue to face various anthropogenic threats, including the depletion of fish stocks, by-catch, chemical and noise pollution, boat collisions, as well as disturbances by humans.

 

Fin Whale (Balaenoptera physalus)

Length: 20m     Weight: 40-50tones     Lifespan: >80years

Migratory species more frequent in the central and western Mediterranean, more rarely found in Greek seas.

Vessel collisions of fin whales with large (mainly high-speed) ships is an increasing and frequent fatal threat.

 

Sperm Whale (Physeter macrocephalus)

Length: 12-18m      Weight: 24-57tones      Lifespan: >60years

Migrates over deep sea canyons. Females and young live in social groups, while males are solitary. Vessel collisions of sperm whales with large (mainly high-speed) ships is an increasing and frequent fatal threat.

 

Risso’s Dolphin  (Grampus griseus)  

Length: 2.6-3.8m      Weight: 300-600kg      Lifespan: >30years

Pelagic species, forms small migratory groups, normally found off continental slope waters.

 

Cuvier’s Beaked Whale  (Ζiphius cavirostris)

Length: 5-7m      Weight: 2-3 tons      Lifespan: >60years

Lives in deep canyons in small family groups

Vulnerable to noise pollution caused by sonar from military activity and seismic exploration, which can lead to fatal strandings.

 

 Mediterranean Monk Seal  (Monachus monachus)

Length: 1.90-3.10m      Weight: 250-350kg      Lifespan: >45years

Characterised as one of the most endangered mammals worldwide.

Its global population is estimated at around 450 monk seals, about 50% of which are found in the Aegean Sea.

The northern Dodecanese is an important feeding and breeding location.

 

Mediterranean Monk Seal (Delphinus delphis)

Length: 1.90-3.10m      Weight: 250-350kg      Lifespan: >45years

Characterised as one of the most endangered mammals worldwide.

Its global population is estimated at around 450 monk seals, about 50% of which are found in the Aegean Sea.

The northern Dodecanese is an important feeding and breeding location.

 

Striped Dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba)

Length: 1.80-2.50m      Weight: 110-170kg      Lifespan: >50years

It is the most common dolphin species in the Greek Seas. It is normally found in the open sea, in large pods that can exceed 150 individuals.

 

Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncates)

Length: 1.90-3.90m      Weight: 150-300kg      Lifespan: >50years

Common in coastal waters throughout the Greek seas. As fish stocks decline, this species increasingly

turns to the nets of small-scale fishing boats for food, leading to damaged nets which are expensive to repair.