Ionian Archipelago IMMA

Area Size

9 606 km2

Qualifying Species and Criteria

Common dolphin – Delphinus delphis

Criterion A; B (1); C (1, 2)

Mediterranean monk seal – Monachus monachus

Criterion A; C (1)

Marine Mammal Diversity 

Balaenoptera physalus, Tursiops truncatus, Ziphius cavirostris

Summary

Within the Ionian Archipelago, Endangered Mediterranean common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) suffered a dramatic decline between 1995 and 2007. Monitoring done in subsequent years, together with numerous reports of opportunistic sightings provided by collaborating partners and researchers, has shown that they likely roam across a much wider area around the Archipelago. This area also features one of the most important areas globally for the Endangered Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus), with an estimated 5.7% to 9.2% of the global population. Breeding habitats used for pupping have been well documented in the area.

Description of Qualifying Criteria

Criterion A – Species or Population Vulnerability

The Mediterranean subpopulation of common dolphin is classified as Endangered in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The species is also listed in Appendix I and II of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), in Appendix II (Strictly Protected Fauna Species) of the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention), and in Annex IV of the EU Habitats Directive (Council Directive 92/43/EEC).

The Mediterranean monk seal Monachus monachus is a pinniped assessed as Endangered [EN C2a(i)] in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Previous monitoring surveys have provided a population estimate between 30 and 40 individuals for the Ionian islands. However, more recent studies provide a higher population estimate around 37 to 60 individuals in the area. Surveys have been carried out on mapping and assessing the Mediterranean monk seal shelter/marine caves that constitute the main terrestrial habitat of the species, in terms of suitability as a breeding areas by many collaborating organisation and researchers.

Criterion B: Distribution and Abundance

Sub-criterion B1: Small and Resident Populations

There is strong evidence of common dolphins being regularly present, showing various degrees of site-fidelity, within the limits of the area described. Photo-identification effort conducted in the Inner Ionian Sea Archipelago between 1995-2015 resulted in 205 photo-identified common dolphins. Of those, 69 individuals were seen only once. From the remaining 136 dolphins, 64 showed a relatively strong site-fidelity. Eleven individuals were newly identified during the last decade. Only 61 common dolphins that were regularly identified throughout the period 1995-2003 were also occasionally identified in the Inner Ionian Sea Archipelago in subsequent years. The last two surveys conducted beyond the Inner Ionian Sea Archipelago have resulted in more than 20 recaptures of dolphins firstly identified in the Archipelago and a few dozens of new individuals not previously known.

Criterion C: Key Life Cycle Activities

Sub-criterion C1: Reproductive Areas

Presence of calves has been regularly observed in the common dolphin groups. Over 25 years of photo-identification effort have provide insight into the life cycle and reproductive rates and success of identifiable individuals.

The Ionian Archipelago is an area where breeding of the local population of Mediterranean monk seal is well observed and documented. According to recent reports the Ionian islands have at least 194 resting and 2 breeding shelters recorded for the species. The area including the IMMA has been assessed on its significance by Archipelagos since the early 90’s. Surveys have been carried out on mapping and assessing the Mediterranean monk seal shelter/marine caves that constitute the main terrestrial habitat of the species, in terms of suitability as a breeding areas. Previously a pup that was found orphaned in Cephalonia was rescued, rehabilitated and released in 2009.

Sub-criterion C2: Feeding Areas

During group-follows of behavioural data collection, common dolphin groups have been frequently observed surface-feeding. Published research studies have looked at the competition for fish resources between locally abundant common dolphins and the active fishing fleet. Fisheries management measures have been proposed not only to protect an increasingly fragile common dolphin population but also to try to benefit a significant part of the local community in this largely fisheries-dependent region.

Supporting Information

Adamantopoulou, S., Androukaki, E., Kotomatas, S. 1999. The distribution of the Mediterranean monk seal in Greece based on an information network. Contributions to the Zoogeography and Ecology of the Eastern Mediterranean Region 1(1999):399-404.

Bearzi, G., Agazzi, S., Gonzalvo, J., Bonizzoni, S., Costa, M., Petroselli, A., 2010. Biomass removal by dolphins and fisheries in a Mediterranean Sea coastal area: do dolphins have an ecological impact on fisheries? Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems n/a–n/a. doi:10.1002/aqc.1123

Bearzi, G., Agazzi, S., Gonzalvo, J., Costa, M., Bonizzoni, S., Politi, E., Piroddi, C., Reeves, R., 2008. Overfishing and the disappearance of short-beaked common dolphins from western Greece. Endang. Species. Res. 5, 1–12. doi:10.3354/esr00103

Bearzi, G., Politi, E., Agazzi, S., Azzellino, A., 2006. Prey Depletion Caused by Overfishing and the Decline of Marine Megafauna in the Eastern Ionian Sea Coastal Waters (central Mediterranean). BIOLOGICAL CONSERVATION 373–382. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2005.08.017

Bearzi, G., Politi, E., Agazzi, S., Bruno, S., Costa, M., Bonizzoni, S., 2005. Ocurrence and Present Status of Coastal Dolphins (Delphinus delphis and Tursiops truncatus) in the eastern Ionian Sea. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 15, 243–257.

Cebrian, D. 1998. La foca monje (Monachus monachus Hermann 1779) en el Mediterráneo oriental (Grecia y Croacia). Ed. Universidad Complutense de Madrid. Madrid. 367 pp plus 2 appendices.

Cebrian, D. 2005. Information Report on the Status of the Monk Seal in the Mediterranean. Ed. UNEP/MAP-RAC/SPA.

Dendrinos, P., Tounta, E. and Kotomatas, S. 2000. A field method for age estimation of Mediterranean monk seal pups. The Monachus Guardian 3: 72-74.

Dendrinos, P., Karamanlidis, A.A., Androukaki, E., and Mcconnell, B.J. 2007. Diving development and behavior of a rehabilitated mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus). Marine Mammal Science 23: 387-397.

Dendrinos, P., Karamanlidis, A.A., Kotomatas, S., Legakis, A., Tounta, E., and Matthiopoulos, J. 2007b. Pupping habitat use in the Mediterranean monk seal: a long-term study. Marine Mammal Science 23: 615-628.
EU. European Union. DGXI. LIFE-Nature Project. Conservation programme for the Ionian Sea region concerning habitats of species threatened with extinction (LIFE92 NAT/GR/013800). WWF Greece. 01-OCT-1992 – 01-DEC-1995.

Frantzis, A. 2009. Cetaceans in Greece: Present status of knowledge. Initiative for the Conservation of Cetaceans in Greece, Athens, Greece, 94 pp.

Karamanlidis, A.A., Dendrinos, P., Fernandez de Larrinoa, P., Gücü, A.C., Johnson, W.M., Kirac, C.O., Pires, R., 2015a. The Mediterranean monk seal Monachus monachus: status, biology, threats, and conservation priorities. Mammal Rev. 46 (2), 92–105. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/mam.12053.

Gonzalvo, J. 2015. Ionian Dolphin Project. Report to the Greek Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change , and to Ministry of Rural Development and Food on the Activities Conducted Between 1991 and 2015 in The Gulf of Ambracia and Inner Ionian Sea Archipelago, Greece. A report by the Tethys Research Institute. 77 pp.

Gonzalvo, J. 2016. Ionian Dolphin Project. Report to Greek Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change, and to Ministry of Rural Development and Food on the Activities Conducted Between 1991 and 2016 in The Gulf of Ambracia and Inner Ionian Sea Archipelago, Greece. A report by the Tethys Research Institute. 85 pp.

Gonzalvo, J., Costa, M. 2016. Will There Be Any Reward for Common Dolphin Perseverance? In: Pace, D.S., Mussi, B., Vella, A. et al. 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

Gonzalvo, J., Moutopoulos, D.K., Bearzi, G., Stergiou, K.I., 2011. Fisheries mismanagement in a Natura 2000 area in western Greece. Fisheries Management and Ecology 18, 25–38. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2400.2010.00764.x
Hermann, J. 1779. Beschreibung der Moenchs-Robbe. Beschaeftigungen der Berlinischen Gesellschaft Naturforschender Freunde 4: 456-509, pl. 412-413.

Joseph, E. 2009, Nefeli’s Rehabilitation: Methods, Results, and Challenges, http://monachus-guardian.org/mguard25/2523infocu.htm
Karamanlidis, A. & Dendrinos, P. 2015. Monachus monachus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T13653A45227543. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2015-

Karamanlidis, A.A., Dendrinos, P., Fernandez de Larrinoa, P., Gücü, A.C., Johnson, W.M., Kirac, C.O., Pires, R., 2015a. The Mediterranean monk seal Monachus monachus: status, biology, threats, and conservation priorities. Mammal Rev. 46 (2), 92–105. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/mam.12053.

Legakis, A. & Maragou, P. 2009. The Red List of Endangered Animals of Greece. Hellenic Zoological Society, Athens, 528 p.

Marchessaux, D., 1977. Will the Mediterranean monk seal survive? Aquat. Mamm. 5 (3), 87.

Marchessaux, D., 1989. Distribution et statut des populations du phoque moine Monachus monachus (Hermann, 1799). Mammalia 53 (4), 621–642.

Marchessaux, D. And R. Duguy. 1977. Note sur l’observation du phoque moine, Monachus monachus, en Grece. Rapp. Comm. int. Mer Medit. 24: 27-30

MOm, 1996. Strategy for the Protection of the Mediterranean Monk Seal Monachus monachus in Greece. Archipelagos—Marine and Coastal Management and Mom/Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Monk Seal (MOm), Athens, Greece. 10 p.

Notarbartolo di Sciara, G., Adamantopoulou, S., Androukaki, E., Dendrinos, P., Karamanlidis, A.A., Paravas, V., Kotomatas, S., 2009a. National Strategy and Action Plan for the Conservation of the Mediterranean Monk Seal in Greece, 2009–2015. Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Mediterranean Monk Seal (MOm), Athens, Greece, p. 19.

Notarbartolo di Sciara, G., Adamantopoulou, S., Androukaki, E., Dendrinos, P., Karamanlidis, A.A., Paravas, V., Kotomatas, S., 2009b. National strategy and action plan for the conservation of the Mediterranean monk seal in Greece, 2009–2015. Report on evaluating the past and structuring the future. Publication prepared as part of the LIFENature Project: MOFI: Monk Seal and Fisheries: mitigating the conflict in Greek Seas, Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Mediterranean Monk Seal (MOm).71 p. Available from: http://www.monachus-guardian.org/library/notarb09b.pdf.

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

Panou, A., 2009. Monk seal sightings in the central Ionian Sea: a network of fishermen for the protection of the marine resources. Archipelagos—Environment and Development, Greece, In: Presentation at the “Who Are Our Seals?” Workshop, European Cetacean Society Annual Conference, Istanbul, Turkey, 28 February, p. 6.

Panou, A., Jacobs, J. & Panos, D. 1993 The Endangered Mediterranean Monk Seal Monachus monachus in the Ionian Sea, Greece. Biological Conservation, 64, 129-140.
Piroddi, C., Bearzi, G., Christensen, V., 2011a. Marine open cage aquaculture in the eastern Mediterranean Sea: a new trophic resource for bottlenose dolphins. Marine Ecology Progress Series 440, 255–266. doi:10.3354/meps09319

Piroddi, C., Bearzi, G., Gonzalvo, J., Christensen, V., 2011b. From common to rare: The case of the Mediterranean common dolphin. BIOLOGICAL CONSERVATION 144, 2490–2498. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2011.07.003
UNEP-MAP-RAC/SPA, 2003. Action Plan for the Management of the Mediterranean Monk Seal (Monachus monachus). Regional Activity Centre for Specially Protected Areas (RAC/SPA), Tunis. 12 p. Available from: http://www.monachus-guardian.org/library/unepma87.pdf.

UNEP-MAP-RAC/SPA, 2005. Information report on the status of the monk seal in the Mediterranean. In: Seventh Meeting of the National Focal Points for SPAs, Seville, 31 May–3 June. UNEP(DEC)/MED WG. 268/Inf 3. 45 p.

UNEP-MAP-RAC/SPA, 2006. Report of the International Conference on Monk Seal Conservation. Antalya, Turkey, 17–19 September 2006. UNEP. 69 p. Available from: http://www.rac-spa.org/sites/default/files/doc_monackus/report_int_monk_seal_conf_antalya_2006.pdf.
Scheel, D.M., Slater, G.J., Kolokotronis, S-O., Potter, C.W., Rotstein, D.S., Tsangaras, K., Greenwood, A.D. and Helgen, K.M. 2014. Biogeography and taxonomy of extinct and endangered monk seals illuminated by ancient DNA and skull morphology. ZooKeys 409: 1-33.

SoHelME. 2005. State of the Hellenic Marine Environment. E. Papathanassiou & A. Zenetos (eds) , HCMR Publ., 360 pp

Downloads

Download the full account of the Ionian Archipelago IMMA using the Fact Sheet button below:

To make a request to download the GIS Layer (shapefile) for the Ionian Archipelago IMMA please complete the following Contact Form:

    * Required fields



    Please read the User Licence Agreement and IMMA Layer Metadata Description