Northern Coast and Islands of the Thracian Sea IMMA

Area Size

5 441 km2

Qualifying Species and Criteria

Black Sea harbour porpoise – Phocoena phocoena relicta

Criterion A; C (1, 2)

Marine Mammal Diversity 

Delphinus delphis, Tursiops truncatus,
Stenella coeruleoalba, Monachus monachus

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The northern coast areas and islands of the Thracian Sea contain important habitat for Endangered Black Sea harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena relicta), used for foraging between the coastline and the 100m isobath. Multiple observations of live specimens have been recorded in recent years.

Description of Qualifying Criteria

Criterion A – Species or Population Vulnerability

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species classifies the Black Sea subspecies of harbour porpoise, Phocoena phocoena relicta, as Endangered. Dedicated research effort and surveys have collected occasional sightings and strandings records in the area.

Criterion C: Key Life Cycle Activities

Sub-criterion C1: Reproductive Areas

A harbour porpoise calf was observed during a survey conducted in 2009, which indicates that calving and breeding likely takes place in the area, although direct observation of breeding behavior has not yet been recorded.

Sub-criterion C2: Feeding Areas

Stomach contents of stranded harbour porpoises in the area attest to the fact that the animals are feeding. Their diet mainly consists of Gobidae, followed by Clupeidae. Although important commercial fisheries species were found during diet analysis, in none of the stomachs investigated their presence was considered dominant on other species.

Supporting Information

Altug, G., Aktan, Y., Oral, M., Topaloglu, B., Dede, A., Keskin, Ç., Isinibilir, M., Cardak, M., Çiftçi, P. 2011. Biodiversity of the northern Aegean Sea and southern part of the Sea of Marmara, Turkey. Marine Biodiversity Records, 4. doi:10.1017/S1755267211000662


Cucknell, A.C., Frantzis, A., Boisseau, O., Romagosa, M., Ryan, C., Tonay, A.M., Alexiadou, P., Öztürk, A.A., Moscrop, A. 2016. Harbour porpoises in the Aegean Sea, Eastern Mediterranean: the species’ presence is confirmed. Marine Biodiversity Records 9:72. DOI 10.1186/s41200-016-0050-5

Milani, C., Vella, A., Vidoris, P., Christidis, A., Kallianiotis, A., Koutrakis, E., Frantzis, A., Miliou, A., Kallianiotis, A. 2017. Cetacean strandings and diet analyses in the North Aegean Sea (Greece). Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 1-18. doi:10.1017/S0025315417000339
MOm/Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Monk Seal. Status of the Mediterranean monk seal Monachus monachus in Greece. 2009. MOm, Athens

Pace, D.S., Mussi, B., Vella, A., Vella, J., Frey, S., Bearzi, G., Benamer, I., Benmessaoud, R., Gannier, A., Genov, T., Giménez, J., Gonzalvo, J., Kerem, D., Larbi Doukara, K., Milani, C., Murphy, S., Natoli, A., Öztürk, A., Pierce, G.J. 2016. Report of the 1st International Workshop “Conservation and Research Networking on Short‐beaked Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis in the Mediterranean Sea”. Mediterranean Common Dolphin Working Group. Ischia Island, Italy, 13‐15 April 2016. 44 pp. DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.1.4801.3047

Ryan, C., Cucknell, A.C., Romagosa, M., Boisseau, O., Moscrop, A., Frantzis, A., McLanaghan, R. 2014. A visual and acoustic survey for marine mammals in the eastern Mediterranean Sea during summer 2013. Funded by the International Fund for Animal Welfare with additional support from Pelagos Cetacean Research Institute 56 p.

Tonay, A.M., Dede, A. 2013. First stranding record of a harbour porpoise (Phocoen phocoena) in the Southern Aegean Sea. J. Black Sea/Mediterranean Environment 19(1): 132-137.


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