Alonnisos National Park: A Field Trip to a Unique Place

The Sea is the source of life. Every time you have a vacation on an island, becomes clearer. Everything depends on the water and its health. One example, one place that everybody should visit, is Alonnisos island.

I have been to Alonnisos island for field trip research during my Master’s in Botany. I was amazed by the beauty of the complex ecosystem of the Marine National Park of Alonnisos. The park is famous for the Mediterranean seal, but there are numerous of flora and fauna at which to marvel in this cluster of North Sporades islands.

There are seven islands that comprise the Marine National Park, but only Alonnisos is inhabited. On some of the islands, visits with small boats are allowed, but humans are not allowed even to get close to the others. Seals, turtles, and birds are the only residents there. Humans are allowed only with strict permission (research activities, traditional livestock farmers). This is how they thrive.

Seals are called Monachus monachus, because of the shape of their upper head looks like a Roman monk’s cap. From Homer’s times the seal has been described sunbathing on the shores. Today, this species is extinct from all other parts of the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea, Morocco, and Atlantic shores. Only 400 seals survived and two-thirds are in Alonnisos National Park. The geography of the area is an ideal sanctuary for the seals and many more species.

Rare species of falcons, wild goats, seagulls, ducks, cormorant, dolphins, and whales find in this cluster of land and sea the ideal place to be. More than 300 species of fish and more than 80 species of birds live there.

Mediterranean pine forests and maquis shrubland vegetation (vegetation with shrubs and small trees with evergreen hard leaves) are the main vegetation, along with some endemic plants like campanula, linum, and the areanaria species. One of the most important examples of flora are the underwater meadows of Posidonia plants. Posidonia oceanicae are plants living under water, often confused with seaweed. Posidonia is an index of a good, clean, and crystal clear sea. If you see Posidonia in an area, swim without a doubt.

If I have a second chance, I would go again to Alonnisos in support of its local community and the people who are trying to consciously keep this natural wonder alive.

* The above is not medical advice but recommends for improving your diet. Before reach herbal use you should consult your doctor, especially those who have health issues, are pregnant or are under the age of 6.

Evropi-Sofia Dalampira holds a PhD in Agricultural Economics and an MSc in Botany-Biology.

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