Site details

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1 star - Not protected
LTBR Focal Site

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Gulf of Heraklion. Photo: M Kallergis

Synoptic description of site:

Located in the Cretan Sea, proximal to the capital of Crete, Heraklion. A small island (Dia) is included in the site.

Extensive description of site:

The Gulf of Heraklion is a large area where most types of Mediterranean habitats of the soft- and hard-substrata occur. Among the formations of particular interest for the Mediterranean Sea are the calcareous substrates (coralligenous assemblages).

Habitats present:
Seagrass bedsX

Description of fauna and flora:

The fauna and flora are very well documented, and have been researched and documented since the times of “Calypso” (the well-known French research vessel) campaigns in the Mediterranean waters, in the early sixties.

Human impact:

The area is subjected to moderate levels of pollution from the large conurbation of Heraklion (pop. 180,000) and port installations, and experiences organic pollution from sewage outfalls, industrial pollution, heavy navigation, and over-fishing activities (primarily by trawling) from October to May. A degree of disturbance is caused in the shallow soft sediments by winter storms.


Most of the facilities needed for marine biodiversity research are available: research vessels (Filia, Aegean Falcon (in construction)); fully equipped laboratories; IMBC Library.

Available database and website:

Information on species occurrences in the Gulf is very comprehensive, and is available both as hard copy and in Excel files. All of the main research projects carried out in the Gulf of Heraklion appear on the Institute’s web site: .


Commitment and ongoing research:

The Institute of Marine Biology of Crete is based on the cost of the Gulf of Heraklion and the main bulk of its coastal biodiversity research efforts have been spent in the area. The Director of the IMBC has already signed a letter of intent, where the significance of Marine Biodiversity studies for the Institute is particularly acknowledged. Interest in the research activities of the area is further strengthened since the Institute has been designated as the National Centre of Excellence for Marine Biodiversity, by the General Secretariat of Research and Technology, Greek Ministry of Development.