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Five Remarkable Marine Animals of Greece (And Where to Find Them)

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Loggerhead turtle in Greece, one of the most majestic marine animals in the country. Credit: Funfood /Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

Greece’s waters are home to a wide range of marine animals, ranging from whales to sea turtles.

By Cliff Blaylock

There is a great fascination among many of us when it comes to sea-faring animals. Many remarkable marine animals can be found in the waters of Greece.

Perhaps, it is the mystery that allures us. Whatever the reason may be, people cross continents, brave stormy seas and shell out thousands to catch glimpses of some of the sea’s most remarkable creatures.

Mediterranean Monk Seals

marine animals greece
Mediterranean monk seal. Credit: Vasillis Drosakis/Wikimedia Commons/ CC BY-SA 4.0

The rarest of all the marine animals in Greece, the Monk Seal is a cave-dwelling species of the seldom-seen animal. With just over 600 animals left in the wild, this truly is a rare breed of seal.

Hunting and the destruction of their habitat have driven the Monk Seal population down, and their numbers have been so greatly reduced that whenever a new seal colony was discovered, it was kept secret to protect the animals.

These animals are tough to find, but a trip to the Alonissos Island National Marine Park in Greece is by far your best bet. A stable population feed in this stretch of water and the rest in the coast’s network of caves.

It might take you a while to spot one, but there is no better other spot in the Mediterranean for it.

Sperm Whales

Sperm whales. Credit: Gabriel Barathieu/ Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 2.0

By far the largest marine animal in the sea surrounding Greece is the mighty Sperm Whale.

Capable of reaching 20 meters in length and 60 tons in weight, these squid-fighting goliaths are an awe-inspiring sight to behold, above or below the water.

However, given their affinity for diving to great depths, you have to be on the ball to find them.

There are two well-known locations for Sperm Whale sightings: the violent Hellenic trench and the Aegean Sea.

The former is your best chance of finding them, the trench’s deep waters are their favorite hunting spot. However, the swells in this area can be quite big, and it is not recommended for anything but large, fully equipped vessels.

Instead, head out into the Aegean Sea on the eastern side of Greece. Your best chance of finding a sperm whale is off the coast of the central islands, such as Mykonos, where the animal is spotted between the months of May and September.

Striped Dolphins

Dolphins in the Gulf of Corinth. Credit: Oceancare/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

Dolphins are on the must-see list for many people, and luckily, they are found in abundance all over the world.

The difficulty, however, is pinpointing these marine animals. Intelligent and quick, spotting a dolphin takes time, dedication, and a whole lot of luck.

Some places are better for catching glimpses than others, and in Greece, that place is the Gulf of Corinth. A semi-closed off section of the Ionian Sea, this gulf is surrounded by beautiful scenery that is worth a visit even without the dolphins.

However, dolphins are present here, and if you are looking for a sighting, it is best to scour the coastal regions.

The sheltered nature of the gulf means the waters are often smooth and still, allowing for easier sightings.

Of course, it is entirely possible to catch sight of dolphins riding the waves of cruise ships or frolicking in the water wherever you might be in Greece, but if you really want to see them up close, this gulf is your best bet.

Loggerhead Turtles

turtle island marathonisi
A baby loggerhead in the waters of Zakynthos. Credit: Tony Hisgett /Wikimedia Commons/ CC BY 2.0

Perhaps the easiest of all marine animals to find on this list is the Loggerhead Turtle of Zakynthos, which is a magnificent sight to behold.

They are cumbersome and awkward as they come ashore to lay their eggs, but once in the water, these agile and sublime creatures float around gracefully.

While they are popular animals in aquariums across the world, seeing one in the wild is really rather special.

As mentioned above, the best place to see these turtles is Zakynthos along its southern coast during the months of April, May, and June on the bay of Laganas, to be precise.

You might catch them laying eggs on the beach although you are more likely to spot them out in the water waiting for the right moment to make their nest.

Basking Sharks

marine animals greece
Basking sharks may seem scary, but these marine animals found near Greece are harmless to humans. Credit: Public domain

This is the second biggest shark of the shark family, but don’t let their name fool you. These harmless creatures swim about, mouth gaping, trying to swallow up any plankton and krill they can find.

They are easy to spot thanks to their dorsal fins and affinity for surface dwelling prey, and they are commonly spotted off the coast of Rhodes.

Unlike other sharks, with whom you might not be so tempted to get in the water, this gentle, tempered, and slow moving fish makes for an incredible diving experience.

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