This region of the Central Eastern Aegean Sea comprises an area surrounded by Chios, Psarra, Cesme, Karaburun Peninsula, Gulf of Izmir, and Foça, extending offshore towards the 200m isobath. This area is an important breeding and pupping area for the Endangered Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus), due to the caves located along the coastal zone. However, it is known from telemetry studies that monk seals easily cross such deep areas even though they tend to spend their time in shallower water.
Description of Qualifying Criteria
Criterion A – Species or Population Vulnerability
The Mediterranean monk seal Monachus monachus is assessed as Endangered [EN C2a(i)] in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The species is still widely distributed throughout coastal and insular Greece; important population units can be found in the Aegean, mainly in Northern Sporades, Kimolos, Gyaros and Karpathos, and Ionian Seas mainly in Zakynthos and Cephalonia. The minimum population size estimate for Greece is 179 adult individuals, which represents 40-51% of the estimated world’s total of mature adults.
Criterion C: Key Life Cycle Activities
Sub-criterion Ci: Reproductive Areas
The main criterion upon which the IMMA was identified was based on the knowledge that the area contains important breeding nuclei of monk seals, in which 11 caves were potential seal habitats, nine seals have been observed. Two pups were born inside the Foça Pilot Protection Area.
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Cebrian, D. 2005. Information Report on the Status of the Monk Seal in the Mediterranean. Ed. UNEP/MAP-RAC/SPA.
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Notarbartolo di Sciara, G., Kotomatas, S. 2016. Are Mediterranean monk seals, Monachus monachus, being left to save themselves from extinction? In: G. Notarbartolo di Sciara, M. Podestà, B.E. Curry (Editors), Mediterranean marine mammal ecology and conservation. Advances in Marine Biology 75:361-388. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/bs.amb.2016.08.004
Notarbartolo di Sciara, G., Adamantopoulou, S., Androukaki, E., Dendrinos, P., Karamanlidis, A.A., Paravas, V., Kotomatas. S. 2009. National strategy and action plan for the conservation of the Mediterranean monk seal in Greece, 2009 ‐ 2015. MOm, Athens: 1‐ 19.
SoHelME, 2005. State of the Hellenic Marine Environment. E. Papathanassiou & A. Zenetos (eds), HCMR Publ., 360 pp.
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