ZAKYNTHOS ISLAND

  • HISTORY OF ZAKYNTHOS
  • MUSICAL HISTORYCOOKING IN ZAKYNTHOS
  • NATURE-CLIMATE-BEACHES
  • ST DIONYSIOS CHURCH
  • EXPLORE ZAKYNTHOS
  • NATIONAL MARINE PARK

ZAKYNTHOS ISLAND

Zakynthos is the furthest south of the Ionian Islands and the third in area and population. It is located 8.5 nautical miles south of Kefallonia, 9.5 miles west of the Peloponnese, and approximately 300 kilometers west of the capital of Greece, Athens.
Its geographic location allows travelers to visit the other Ionian Islands as well, or even to travel to the shores of the Peloponnese opposite it, where one can find, among other things, the ancient city of Olympia, where the Olympic Games were held in antiquity. In addition, from Zakynthos, due to its direct transport connection, it is easy to reach the large cities of Greece, Patra, Athens, and Thessaloniki. An island full of contrasts, Zakynthos is mostly mountainous, with low mountains full of pine trees and fertile valleys.
On its northern, eastern, and southern sides, there are countless picturesque beaches, while to the west, on its imposing rocky coasts, many maritime caves have formed, such as the famous Blue Cave in the northwest of the island. The climate of Zakynthos is mild, Mediterranean, with much rain and extensive sunshine, even in the winter. Evidently, it also owes its immemorially abundant vegetation to this, which also justifies its descriptions as “full of vegetation” and “the flower of the Levant” (Flor di Levante) by Homer and the Venetians respectively.

 

Zakynthos is still an island with abundant agricultural production, mainly based on the cultivation of the olive, citrus fruits, and grapes, producing both raisins and the excellent wines of Zakynthos, with well-developed entrepreneurial activity, mainly in the field of tourism, and with a rich historical tradition, since for many centuries the island was a crossroads of peoples and cultures.
History of Zakynthos or Tzante

Zakynthos has been known the prehistoric years.
According the myth, Zakynthos received its name from its first settler, Zakynthos, son of the king of Phrygia Dardanos. According to findings of the Stone Age, the island was inhabited very early. Thanks to its geographical position and the tar sources it disposed, the island developed an important commercial and cultural activity during the ancient times. During the classical period, Zakynthos was a self-governed and prosperous city-state. In the Byzantine years, Zakynthos was included in the province of Iliria, and later on in that of Kefallonia, and once again it suffered from the raids of the vandals and pirates. After the capture of Constantinople by the Latins in 1204, Zakynthos comes under the control of the Orsinis, and in 1357 the island is under the rule of the Tokkoi family. The Tokkoi leave the island under the Turkish threat, and later on, in approximately 1480, the island is abandoned by almost all its inhabitants. Venice takes advantage of the fact, and takes hold of the island in1485, resettles the inhabitants, and offers motivation for the attraction of new settlers. During the Venetian domination period, Zakynthos will face repeated calamities, such as earthquakes and epidemics, and even social turmoil, like the Revolution of the Popolari (people without the rights granted to aristocracy) in 1628, that is the revolution of the popular classes and the bourgeois of the time against the nobles.
In 1797, the island was inhabited by the French, which meat the end of the Venetian domination and feudalism. In 1799, Zakynthos became part of the newly established Ionian State, while the British take over the island in 1809, a fact that is ratified by the Treaty of Paris in 1815. In 1821, the outburst of the Greek Revolution for independence from the Turkish Yoke finds the inhabitants of Zakynthos on the side of the revolted Greeks, against the opposition of the British. The chair of the Filiki Eteria (I… E. Society of Friends) was transferred to Zakynthos in 1818 and this where Theodoros Kolokotronis was initiated in this national matter. During the British domination, there was a flourishing activity concerning learning and cultural development on the island. Despite this, there were groups of people who wished for liberation from the British Yoke, and unification with Greece. Their struggle eventually bore fruits, as the unification of the Ionian Islands with Greece took place on May 21st 1864. In the 20th century, the island’s history was marked by the National Disunity of 1916 – 1917, caused by the ordeals the Greek people suffered under the German and Italian Occupation, and the destructive earthquake of August 1953, which caused the death of many inhabitants and razed the island to the ground.

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Musical history of Zakynthos

The first orchestra of wind instruments in the Ionian Islands and the whole of Greece were created in Zakynthos in 1816. It was called ‘philharmonic Association of Zakynthos’. In 1896 the philharmonic participated in the celebratory part of the Olympic Games. The culture of Zakynthos has exhibited impressive accomplishments concerning music and dances. The various musical types that were formed on the island, along with dances that accompanied them, are held in high esteem by the inhabitants of Zakynthos, and still exist nowadays. While the island’s music was preserved by being passed on from one generation to the other.
As far as music is concerned in Zakynthos, various musical kinds that accompanied the various manifestations of every day life of the inhabitants were produced. So, we find the following forms: the ecclesiastical music, the arekeies, the serenades (kantades) and folk songs. In particular, the arekeies are an unusual kind of songs found all over Zakynthos, and couplet songs sung in four part without musical accompaniment. The kantades, which were spread mainly in town and nearby villages, are not a form of imitation, but an autonomous kind of music developed in the Ionian Island’s, although they were influenced by the west.

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Cooking in Zakynthos

Zakynthos is well-known for its cuisine, which may not include numerous dishes, but presents selected delicacies. It’s no secret that the inhabitants of the island love using oil, wine and particularly garlic Most of the recipes in Zakynthos are based on these ingredients. Also they are using fresh tomatoes, oregano, and ladotiri a spicy cheese, made from sheep milk, and is preserved in jars full of olive oil.
Most housewives in Zakynthos make a delicious casserole dish, the “Sartsa”, with veal, garlic, oil, tomatoes, oregano and pieces of ladotiri. The inhabitants of Zakynthos have a strong liking for onion stew, which in the local variation is made with veal, fresh tomatoes, garlic and laurel leaves, as well as stuffed chicken, which is cooked both in the oven and the frying pan. Another delicious dish made in Zakynthos is eggplants “skordostoumpi” (with garlic and vinegar).
Many different kinds of sweets are made in Zakynthos. Some of these are: the pasteli, the mandolato, the fitoura, and the mandoles. The pasteli is a sweet known since the ancient times, and is made of sesame and honey. The mandolato is considered to be the par excellence specialty of Zakynthos and is made with egg whites, roasted almonds, honey or sugar. The fitoura which is found only in Zakynthos, is made from a mixture of semolina and water, that housewives refrigerate and later on cut in pieces they fry in oil. At the end they sprinkle cinnamon and sugar over the sweet. The mandoles sweet are almonds are covered in candied sugar and requires a particular preparation. The fitoura, the pasteli, and the mandolato are sweets that locals and visitors of the island crave for, and are usually sold by, outdoor sellers at the island’s festivals.
Apart from the sweets and the special dishes produced on the island, one may find excellent wine selections in Zakynthos, such as the “Verdea” and the “Avgoustitis”.

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Nature – Climate – Beaches

Zakynthos is the third largest island of the Ionian sea. It occupies an area of 406 sq. km and its coastline is 123 km long. The island’s shape resembles an uneven triangle, the base of which is formed by the bay of Laganas, while the cape of schinari at the north of the island forms it peak. It is southern of the largest islands in the Ionian Sea, located at the NW of the Peloponnese, and it washed by the Ionian Sea. The climate in Zakynthos is much more agreeable than in the other Ionian Island’s. The island’s average temperature is 11.5 c in wintertime and 27c in the summer. It rarely snows on the island.
The island’s agricultural production is gathered o0n its east side, while the west coasts are rough and steep, with many bays and rocky beaches.
Coniferous trees, wild plants, vines, and olive trees grow on the island. During the summer, especially in August, the celebrated sea lily blooms in Zakynthos. Their scent is magnificent, and this may explain the reason why the island was named fioro di levante (Flowers of the East). The island’s fauna is also very rich, since the well-known caretta – caretta turtle comes here to reproduce and hatch its eggs in the sandy beach of Lagana bay. The island’s beaches are well-known for their crystal clear, shallow waters, while their coasts are mostly sandy. There are many wonderful beaches on the island of Zakynthos which attract many tourists. The beaches near Vassiliko are famous for their crystal waters and their golden sands. Vassiliko is found approximately 15 km from the island’s capital.
At Vassiliko, visitors are offered a variety of choices in order to select the beach of their liking. Many of these beaches are: Porto-Zoro, Mavratzi, Banana, Porto-Roma, Agios Nikolaos, and Gerakas
Only 2 km from Zante town is Kalamaki, one of the largest resorts on the island, one reaches the bay of Laganas, with an impressive 5km long sandy beach, sand dunes, fine sand and shallow waters. Lagana’s beach as well as the nearby beaches at Kalamaki and Agios sostsis attracts thousands of tourists during the summer.
Lovers of savage beauty will find magnificent beaches for swimming on the west side of the island. At the village of Agios Leon, one will find the rocky vies of Limnionas and Roxa. The waters there are deep and cool, and the natural beauty of the scenery majestic. By taking a little boat from Porto Vromi, one will reach the blue caves and ‘Navagio’ (shipwreck). This beach is literally the ornament of the island, and is considered as one of the most beautiful beaches in Greece.
5 km to the north from Zante town will find the resort Tsilivi and its beautiful sandy beach.

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Saint Dionysios the patron saint of Zante

Saint Dionysios was born in approximately 1547.
He was very young when he chose to be engaged in the holy.
He spends the years of his youth in Zakynthos, he learned Greek, Italian and Latin, and studied the Holy Bible.
In 1568 he decides to become a priest and ordained a votary and dedicates himself to his religion receiving the name Daniil. His with-draws to the Monastery of the Transfiguration of the saviour of the strofadia islands (south of Zakynthos) where he dons the monastic habit. He had already begun to perform miracles, and the miracles, and the written documents of the time speak of a highly moral and kind person, dedicated to his cause a person who never disregarded or ignored his fellow beings.
In 1578, he returns to his homeland, Zakynthos, where the people welcome him with unequalled joy and deep emotion. During that period, there was great turmoil amongst the noble families of Zakynthos, which struck the family of Saint Dionysios as well: his brother Constantine was murdered. According to tradition, his brother’s killer wandered hunted down by the Authorities, until he reached the monastery of Anafonitria. He confesses his horrid crime to saint Dionysios, who offers him forgiveness, and even helps him escape late at night giving him a boat in order to flee to Kefallonia.
Saint Dionysios reposed in peace on December 17th 1622, after a long period of malady. His wish was to be buried at Strofadia, at the church of Saint George. During the removal of his relics, his body was intact, and divine scents emergent from his grave. In 1703, he was proclaimed Saint by the Patriarch of Constantinople. His relics were moved to Zakynthos after the Turks attacked the Strofadia Islands.
Saint Dionysios is officially canonized as Patron Saint of the island during the 18th century. His memory is celebrated twice a year in Zakynthos: on December 17th, official celebration day for the saint, and on the 24th of August, day of the removal of his relics from Strofadia to Zakynthos.

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EXPLORE ZAKYNTHOS

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Villages, Museums, Churhes & Monasteries, Beaches ,National Marine Park
Turtle Caretta – Caretta , Monahus – Monahus , Dolphins

Byzantine museum
Zakynthos is an island bursting with things to see, explore and enjoy – from the beautiful beaches, lovely traditional villages, picturesque mountain scenery, water sports, sights such as the Shipwreck and Venetian Castle and as if that wasn’t enough there are also several interesting museums; an ideal way to learn more about this wonderful place and its distinguished residents. The two best known museums are the Zakynthos Museum of Byzantine & Post- Byzantine Art and the Solomos & Kalvos Museum, both of which are located in Zante town, the capital of the island. The Byzantine Museum has many interesting exhibits but is best known for the hagiographies by prominent Zakynthians, as well as exhibits ranging from the 12th – 18th Centuries. The Solomos & Kalvos Museum features the personal artefacts of famous Zakynthians. Another museum of interest is the museum of Grigorios Xenopoulos a famous playwright, and journalist; the museum houses many of his personal items, manuscripts and furniture. On the outskirts of Zante Town, in Bohali, is the Naval Museum reputed to have the best collection of Byzantine vessels worldwide. The Vertzagio Folk museum in the charming village of Pigadakia is a reconstruction of a traditional Zakynthian house furnished and decorated with elegant and original pieces.
Solomos & Kalvos
The museum of Dionysios Solomos and other prominent Zakynthos, is
located on St Markos square in the capital town. The tomb of the famous
poet and author of the Greek National Anthem, Dionysios Solomos is contained here along with many of his personal belongings. There are also exhibits of the possessions of other well known Zakynthians, such as Romas and Xenopoulos known for their contributions to art and literature. There are many clothes on display from the Venetian period, as well as furniture, photographs and portraits. It is an eclectic and interesting display.
Grigorios Xenopoulos
*The museum dedicated to Grigorios Xenopoulas, a Greek novelist and play writer who lived from 1867 – 1951. The museum is near to the Church of Agios Dionysios, in the capital Zante town and houses a collection of manuscripts and personal artefacts of the Xenopoulos.
Vertzagio
A visit to the cultural museum and you will instantly be transported back in time. to over 200 years of Zakynthian History. The museum situated in the peaceful village of Pigadakia is set amongst the beautiful green countryside. Here you will view how the Greeks used to live years before.Inside the museum itself you will see a traditional bedroom,lounge, dining room with original furniture and decoration of the period. Also there is a chance to see a traditional kitchen with all the original utensils and stone oven along with lots of other things associated with a green family ie old money,newspapers clothes,linen etc,
Outside of the museum is the original horse-drawn agricultural machinery that was used to grind wheat in to flour, press grapes into wine and also to process olives into olive oil. Here you can purchase traditional gifts and sample local farm produce. A visit to this museum is a must as it is full as fascinating features associated with Greek History. You can visit the museum by the local «Trainaki» (Village Train) which departs twice a day from Alykes & Alykanas or if you fancy a stroll by foot. It is around 2 klm from Alykes.

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Zakynthos Monasteries
The 16th century Monastery of Our Lady ‘Spileotissa’ (of the cave), near the village of Orthonies. It is built close to a cave where a icon of Madonna was found. The 16th century Monastery of Our Lady ‘Spileotissa’ (of the cave), near the village of Orthonies. It is built close to a cave where a icon of Madonna was found North of the island in a small village of the outback, Orthonies, it is possible to visit the monastery of the Holy Mother of the cave (Spiliotissa) that was built in the XVI century.
This monastery looks like if it has been built at the edge of a gully and it is surrounded by greenness and he landscape is rich in vegetation.
In this moment is possible only to look at it externally because the inside is not accessible.

spiliotisa

The monastery (Anafonitria) from that the near village takes his name, has build at 14th century. This is the monastery where ST. Dionysios protector Saint of the island, passes the last years of his life. Built in greenness landscape it is an attitude for a lot of tourists.
His medieval tower XV century that you can see immediately in the entry, he is very interesting. The tower that is destroyed, partly, it has in the top four arches and a cross and it is used as belfry while in the past he was built to protect.
In the church exists a picture of Virgin that is dated in VX century and she is big value, emanating from Constantinople. Exist also a lot of frescos in the walls.
ST. Dionysios he stay here after he take bield.

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The monastery of St Ioannis the Baptist, built in 16th century, close to the village of Katastari (Hartata) offers an uninterrupted view to the nearby island of Kefalonia and to the coast of Peloponnisos. In the past this post Byzantine monastery, located on the mountain north of Alykes, in the past has been used for its position has a rest area for the pilgrims even though the masterpieces that are there are of great value.
It is possible to see the icons of the famous painters Poulakis and Bafas and preciouswoodfaldstools.
The complex includes a simple abbey, a two floors building and a tower with circular base, built in the past as a defence.

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The Monastery of St Georgios Krimnon (of the precipices), built in the middle of 16th century, at the mountainous region of Volimes. In the town of Anafonitria besides the Monastery of the Holy Mother there is the one of St. George Krimnon built on a promontory from where you can look at the sea. Entering the courtyard of the monastery it is possible to admire on the left the abodes of the resident inhabitants of the monastery, in the middle the tower and on the right a small church. Wedo not know when the church was built, but it was destroyed by pirates in 1553 and then rebuilt in Venetian style. The circular tower was built to defend the monastery from assaults.

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The Monastery of Yperagathos (belongs to Sina), next to a pine and oak wood, at a short distance from the Kiliomenos village To reach this monastery you have to pass the town of Kiliomeno and take a side road on the right. The road to be run is long but in the green with flowered fields on both sides. Once there you reach a small monastery founded in the XVII century and dedicated to the Holy Mother. Not much remains of the splendour of the past but the feeling of peace here is complete.

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The ruined monastery of Our Lady ‘Skopiotissa’, built at the top of mountain Skopos. According to archaeologists, it was build around 1400 A.D. on the ruins of the ancient temple of goddess Artemis. At the top of the Skopos mount, at the back of the town of Argasi, there is a small monastery castled build in honour of the Holy Mother in the XV century. From this monastery, surrounded by nature, it is possible to view the entire island, an unforgettable landscape that the Venetians appreciated and to which they gave the name of Belvedere. It was built on the ruins of the ancient temple of Artemis in Byzantine style; the cross plant and the interiors rich of frescos render the church very characteristic.

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The monastery of the Virgin ‘Dermatousa’ at the village of Tragaki in a sort distance from the beach of Tsilivi. The little church of the monastery was renovated recently. The superb wall paintings from the little church in the monasteries are housed in the Byzantine Museum at the town of Zakynthos.
It is situated at a beautiful panoramic view of the village Lagopodo, and very close to the church of Saint Mavra.

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NATIONAL MARINE PARK

Zakynthos Zante National Marine Park

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The National Marine Park of Zakynthos (N.M.P.Z.) is the recently established marine park situated at the southern most part of the island of Zakynthos. The Presidential Decree for the establishment of the N.M.P.Z. was signed on the 1st of December 1999 by the President of the Greek Republic. The Marine Park’s objectives are to preserve the natural environment and conserve the ecological balance of the marine and coastal area of the Bay of Laganas and of the Strophadia Islands. Within the Marine Park is the most important loggerhead sea turtle Caretta caretta nesting rookery in the Mediterranean, a habitat essential for protection. The National Marine Park of Zakynthos is the first of its kind in Greece comprising of a Management Body and it will be an example for other areas in Greece requiring integrated management.

 

Protected Area
The Marine Park encompasses the marine area of the Bay of Laganas, the sea turtle nesting beaches and a zone of land adjoining them, the wetland of Keri Lake and the two small islands of Strophadia, which are 50 miles south from the island of Zakynthos. It is worth noting that Greece is the only European country where the loggerhead sea turtles Caretta caretta nest, with Zakynthos being the most important nesting area in Mediterranean. Furthermore the area is characterised by a variety of habitats, of European interest including sand dunes, Posidonia oceanica beds, the critically endangered Sea daffodil (Pancratium maritimum), submerged reefs, as well as hundreds of species of flora and fauna, some of which are of great importance.
It should also be noted that a resident population of the critically endangered species of monk seal Monachus monachus is present at the west coast of Zakynthos.
Protection Measures
Within the marine area of the Park there are three zones:
Zone A – no boat activity is allowed
Zone B – boats are allowed with speed limit of 6 miles per hour; no anchoring is allowed
Zone C – boats are allowed with speed limit of 6 miles per hour; anchoring is allowed
On land several restrictions protect the nesting beaches (no building, visitors are allowed on the nesting beaches from 7:00pm to 7:00am, control of the number of visitors etc). Furthermore restrictions on building and tourist development of the area are applied on the zones of land that adjoining the nesting beaches.

 

CARETTA CARETTA Loggerhead Turtle

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The Caretta Caretta turtle or Loggerhead turtle is so called for its distinctive large head which distinguishes it from other turtles. The loggerhead turtle is the largest hard shelled turtle in the world measuring on average around 120 cm and weighing over 100 kg. Their outer-shell is reddish- brown in colour and their underneath is yellow. Caretta Caretta turtles are found in the waters of the Ionian Sea – nesting in particular on the beaches of Zakynthos.
The loggerhead turtles lay their eggs at the same beach where they themselves were born, which is why the protection of the beaches that they nest at is of environmental significance to ensure that the nests successfully hatch, as the numbers of Caretta Caretta turtles are in decline and they have been placed on the Endangered species list. Caretta Caretta turtles are one of the oldest species in the world; sea turtles are known to date from at least 130 million years ago and some fossils may even date from 200 million years ago. Early sea turtles were alive at the same time as the dinosaurs, although the present 8 species of sea turtles alive today have changed significantly since the time of the dinosaurs and date from only up to 60 million years ago. Sea turtles are adapted for their life in the ocean, with streamlined shells and strong flippers designed so they can swim easily. The turtles eat shellfish, clams, muscles and jellyfish.

They do not have teeth but have powerful jaws that can crush their food. It is thought that the turtles can live to be about 60 years old, and they reachreproductive maturity at 30 years old where the females return to the beach where they were born to lay their eggs (only 1 in a 1,000 turtles manage to reach reproductive age). It is unknown what happens to the turtles from when they are born until they return to their home beach to nest their eggs and these years are known as «the lost years». This also means that very little is known about male turtles (as they never leave the sea) and it is only the nesting female turtles that have been tagged to gather information about their migration routes. Loggerhead turtles make the longest migration journeys of any sea turtles. The turtles can lay up to two hundred eggs and can repeat this process 15 days later – up to three or four times in one season (June- August).

The eggs need to be covered in the sand for about two months before they are ready to hatch. The turtles once hatched dig their way out of the sand, by the turtles lower down in the nest pushing the turtles above them out of the nest – they all then race to the sea. The turtles are normally hatched in the night and it is crucial that their path to the sea is unblocked by sandcastles or other obstacles on the beach- as the turtles are better suited to water rather than land. The survival of the sea turtles depends on the specific beaches where the females lay their eggs. Most of the turtle beaches around the world have been destroyed or commercialised resulting in turtles not returning to these beaches. The beaches on Zakynthos, specifically in Lagana bay are tremendously important in the fight to save the turtles – as these beaches have the highest concentration of turtle nesting sites in the Mediterranean – with almost 1,500 nests on only 5 km of beaches. 900 turtles come to lay their eggs on the beaches in Zante.

As the beaches on Zakynthos are so important for the turtles survival, in 1999 a National Marine Park (NMPZ) was established, this was the first marine park in Greece. The purpose of the NMPZ is to protect the flora and fauna on the island and ensure that habitats of wildlife are protected. They work tirelessly to educate tourists and the public about the wildlife in the area and in particular the Caretta Caretta turtles and they patrol beaches to ensure that the turtle nests remain protected and undamaged so the turtles have the best chance to hatch. With public co-operation it will be possible for turtles and humans to harmoniously share beaches.
Top tips to help save the turtles
Take your rubbish home with you – do not leave it on the beach! Plastic bags, balloons and other litter can be mistaken by the turtles as food and once they have eaten it, it can cause them to suffocate or be poisoned (not a nice way for the turtle to die).
Be careful where you place beach umbrellas – check that you are not putting them on a turtle nest and put them down at night.
Kick down your sandcastles as you leave as they can prove a huge obstacle to the baby turtles struggling to find the sea. Just think – knocking sandcastles down can almost be as much fun as making them!
Try not to take pets on beaches where you know there are turtles-as they can disturb the nests. However if it is unavoidable keep dogs on a leash.
Do not drive or park on the beach – as this can crush nests and turtles. Also respect that watersports are restricted on many beaches.
Do not go on the beaches at night as your presence and noise can disrupt nesting turtles who may give up their attempt at laying their eggs, instead heading back to the sea.
If you are staying in accommodation near a beach where turtles nest, make sure your curtains/ blinds are drawn at night so that the turtles do not get confused by the bright lights – as they follow the light of the moon to find their way back to sea.
DO NOT help hatchlings into the water, even if they appear to be struggling. They have to flex and stretch their muscles before they can swim – and the stress of being picked up or prodded by humans can prove too much for the baby turtles.
Learn as much as you can about the turtles and visit the Wildlife Centre at Gerakas beach. Tell your friends about the beautiful Caretta Caretta turtles and their plight.
If you see a turtle swimming in the waters off the coast of Zakynthos, enjoy the moment and delight in the fact that you are glimpsing such an ancient species, swimming in the clear calm waters- ignorant to the fact that it faces extinction thanks to human intervention.

 

 

MONACHUS – MONACHUS
Monachus Monachus Seal (Monk Seal)

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The Mediterranean monk seal is thought to be the world’s rarest sea mammal – current estimates suggest that there are only 500 monk seals in the Mediterranean and 250 of them live in the waters around Greece, including Zante. The seals are brown or dark grey in colour with a lighter coloured belly. They can reach 2.5 m in length and weigh up to 320 kg. The females give birth to their young in secluded caves and most seals are born in autumn. The baby seals stay in the caves for the first two weeks of their life before they enter the water. They reach reproduction age about four years old and they can have babies every other year. The seals are thought to live to be over 20 years old. Their diet consists of fish, octopus and other seafood. They face extinction largely due to the action of humans, for the overdevelopment of beaches and coves, fishing which has reduced the amount of food available for the seals and also has caused them many accidents (even resulting in death) from becoming entangled in fishing nets. Steps need to be taken to ensure that the seals have protected breeding grounds and to educate the local fishermen and tourists to prevent the species frombecoming extinct. In the past monk seals were considered a good omen to sailors and fishermen. The ancient Greeks had such respect for the seals that they declared them protected by the Gods Poseidon (sea) and Apollo (sun), due to the seals love of both the sun and the sea. Also one of the first Greek coins (dating from 500BC) was engraved with the head of a monk seal and they have been the subject of many famous writers including Aristotle and Homer. The seals have a prestigious history but let’s hope that soon the species is not history too.

 

 

DOLPHINS

Zakynthos Zante Dolphins

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Dolphins can sometimes be spotted swimming in the waters of the island of Zante. They are beautiful sea mammals that enjoy interaction with humans often choosing to swim alongside boats. Anyone who has seen dolphins knows what majestic creatures they are and how impressive it is to see their power and grace as they dip in and out of the water.
It is no coincidence that dolphins symbolise joy, freedom and harmony of nature. If you book any of the boat trips that sail around Zante make sure you keeps a look out in case you spot any dolphins.