South Western Milos island

Southern Cyclades, Aegean sea. A volcanic island, famous for its obsidian since the antiquities, its prehistoric settlements and its pirate history during the 16th and 17th century AD. The still active geological processes have crafted a unique coastal environment whose extension beneath the sea surface holds many surprises...   

The rocky coasts of Milos island still hold their dense algal forests, the seagrasses grow in high density and extent, while the sand at some specific spots here is teeming with... hydrothermal activity! CO2 and methane bubbles escape the bottom, the temperature of the sand reaches 100 degrees Celsius, while a community of bacteria spreads along the seafloor for hundreds of square metres, until waves raised by the southern winds start shifting the sand, and in effect destroying their white delicate mats.  

Assessing the state of the marine NATURA 2000 network in Greece

This new and ambitious project has recently started and I am part of the HCMR team that is involved in assessing the state of conservation of the marine habitat types and marine invertebrates protected by the EU Habitats Directive in Greece. Two years full of travelling and diving around Greece, sampling with non-destructive techniques, mapping with new state-of-the-art tools, photographing nature underwater and setting up stations for the future monitoring of the marine NATURA 2000 network in Greece. 

An excellent opportunity for me to gain an even more detailed insight of the state of the marine environment of different parts of the country and a better-informed, large-scale view of the pressures and threats that it is facing. 

For the time being, here as some recent photos shot around Sapientza island, just opposite of Methoni in the southern Peloponnese. They were taken during the dive for the characterisation and marking of the deeper limit of the lush and lively Posidonia oceanica seagrass meadows (Habitat Type 1120) of the local NATURA 2000 site. 

Stay tuned, as I will be posting project info, updates and photos from the field in a frequent basis...

Back from the Arabian Gulf

After 14 days spent in remote locations in the hot and humid Qatar and Kuwait, I am back to the mild climate of Greece with my mind full of memories and experiences...

From living and working for conservation with locals to underwater explorations in places few (if any) have seen, this trip has opened a new world in front of my eyes and lenses! One of the greatest surprises I had during this trip was the variety of marine life I encountered during the few dives I did in the Arabian Gulf. This is something I had not expected at all, having read scientific reports about the region regarding the extreme water temperature fluctuations during the year and the high salinity that fall well outside the optimum range for coral reef development and thus act as a limiting factor for the development of both corals and associated fauna. Especially in Kuwait, the actual living coral growth and abundance around the remote island Qaruh blew me away, considering that the 1996, 1998 and 2002 mass mortality events supposedly killed more than 90% of corals in the Gulf!

 
This is indeed a fragile underwater world that is much more interesting and rich than originally thought, and in dire need of appreciation and protection.