Alonissos – National Marine Park of Alonissos and Northern Sporades
Saturday, September 1, 2018
Alonissos belongs to the complex of Sporades Islands. It has a total area of approximately 64.5km2 and its coastline is approximately 67km in length. This is a region of great geographical diversity, where Alonissos along with its neighbouring islands collectively form a unique ecosystem: the National Marine Park of Alonissos and Northern Sporades.
The National Marine Park of Alonissos and Northern Sporades was the first marine park established in Greece (1992) and is currently the largest marine protected area in Europe (2200km2, while it is member of the MedPAN (Network of Marine Protected Areas in the Mediterranean).
The National Marine park of Alonissos and Northern Sporades is the nature reserve for a series of terrestrial and marine species living in the Mediterranean Sea, including hundreds of plants and animals, while it is one of the most important nature reserves for the Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus), one of the most endangered mammals in the world.
More information about the fauna ecosystem:
The area of the Marine Park is also a precious reserve for many fish species (about 300), birds (over 80 species), reptiles and mammals. The Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus), the red coral (Coralium rubrum), Eleonora’s falcon (Falco eleonorae), Audouin’s gull (Larus audouinii), the Common shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis) and the wild goat of Gioura (Capra aegagrus) are some of the most typical rare species living in this area. Bonelli’s eagles (Hieraetus fasciatus), Great cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo), Yellow-legged gulls (Larus cacchinans) and swifts (Apus apus & Apus melba) are some of the most common birds also found in the Marine Park. Various species of the Sylviidae family are also encountered here, such as the Sardinian warbler (Sylvia melanocephala) and the Blackcap (Silvia articapilla). Marine fauna is also diverse, including numerous benthic and ocean species. Dolphins and some whale species also live within the area of the Marine Park. Common dolphins (Delphinus delphis), striped dolphins (Stenella coeruleoalba), bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatua), sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) and cuvier’s beaked whales (Ziphius cavirostris) are the most common species of dolphins and whales encountered here.
More information about Monachus monachus:
Monk seals used to live throughout the Mediterranean Sea; from the eastern Atlantic Ocean, Morocco and Mauritania to the Black Sea. Under the influence of various factors, the population of monk seals has significantly decreased in numbers, and their natural reserves have been shrinking in size over time. In the last twenty years, the monk seal has become extinct in over ten countries and therefore, it is nowadays considered to be one of the most endangered mammals in Europe.
At some 400–500 remaining monk seals, scientists confirm that 2/3 of their total population live in Greece. The Mediterranean monk seal is one of the largest species of seals in the world; they grow up to 2-3m and weigh an average of 250 kg. It takes 3-4 years for females to reach reproductive maturity and a little longer for males. They are believed to live up to 35-40 years. Pregnancy lasts for 10 to 11 months; births take place mostly from May to November and peak from September to October.
Besides the scientific point of view, there is a cultural interest as well, since there are remarkable archaeological and historical monuments in the area (shipwrecks, old monasteries and churches) dating back to the prehistoric era, the classical period or the Byzantine Empire.
We will start our tour from the port Achilleion, near the city of Volos, where we will be transferred by coach from Larissa.
- At approximately 11:00 we will have a short stop at the island of Skopelos, which is the greenest island of Greece. The green colour of the pines and the thick forests meets the deep blue of the sea and the sky, and you will be amazed to dive in such an idyllic place.
- We will leave the island of Skopelos at about 12:30, and travel towards Patitiri, which is the capital of Alonissos. During the trip we will have a typical greek summer lunch served in buffet (greek souvlaki – grilled on board, salads, etc.). Seagulls and dolphins will accompany us when on board, while approaching Alonissos we could also see monks.
- We will arrive at the picturesque port of Patitiri in Alonissos before 14:00 the latest and head for the “Mom Information Center for study and protection of the Monk Seal”.
- Later we will be transferred by bus to the traditional Old Village, a labyrinth of small roads, steep stairs and beautiful stone houses surrounded by flowers and pergolas. Thanks to its placement, the village is famous for the fantastic view to every direction.
- Our visit to the National Park will continue to Steni Vala, where we can find the “Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre” for wounded and orphaned baby seals, run by MOm.
- The tour in the Park will last about 3 hours. We can enjoy swimming and diving, take pictures, record videos, go sightseeing, and observe the wildlife in areas where public access is permitted, as long as we comply with the regulatory provisions for the protection of the ecosystem.
- We will start our departure at about 18:30. On the way back, a stop in the other side of Skopelos is an option, while dinner on board is included too.
- We will be back in Achilleion, Volos at about 22:00 and then return to Larissa at about 23:00.
If you wish to extend your staying on Alonissos or maybe Skopelos islands, you can be dropped off on each of them. Since it is a great opportunity for you to have your vacation after the conference, you are encouraged to do so. In this case though, accommodation and other arrangements need to be self-organized.
Post Conference tour is a unique opportunity to meet one of the most beautiful Greek islands in summertime, explore the most fascinating ecosystem inside the National Marine Park and observe the endangered Monk Seal species in its natural habitat.
One-day post Conference tour costs only 150 euro (included: transportation by bus from Larissa to Achilleion port and back, transportation by boat from Achilleion port to Skopelos and Alonissos islands and back, Mom Information Centre visit, Rescue and Rehabilitation Center visit, access in the National Marine Park, coffee, lunch, dinner)
Please register now and get advantage of the extremely privileged price we have ensured only for the EWDA Conference participants.