By Cliff Blaylock
There is a great fascination among many of us when it comes to ocean faring animals. 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 ocean’s most remarkable creatures. Some of those can be found in the crystal clear waters of Greece.
The rarest of all, 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. Pushed this way by man, hunting and the destruction of their habitat, their number have been so greatly reduced that when 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 nowhere else in the Mediterranean is better for it.
By far the largest animal to grace the oceans 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 pretty 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 get pretty big and it is not recommended in anything other than large, fully equipped vessels. Instead then, head out into the Aegean Sea on the eastern side of Greece. Your best chance of finding one is off the coast of the central islands, such as Mykonos, where the animal is spotted between the months of May and September.
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 them. Intelligent, small – compared to the ocean anyway – 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 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 are in Greece, but if you really want to see them first hand, this gulf is your best bet.
Perhaps the easiest to find of all on this list, the Loggerhead Turtles of Zakynthos are a magnificent sight to behold. Lumbersome 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, to see 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.
The second biggest 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.
Easy to spot, thanks to their dorsal fins and affinity for surface dwelling prey, you will spot them off the coast of Rhodes. Unlike other sharks, who you might not be so tempted to get in the water with, this gentle tempered and slow moving fish makes for an incredible diving experience.
Travel about the Greek coast with Deep Blue Yachting and try your luck at finding all of these incredible creatures.