Greek diver campaigns to protect rare seahorses in Halkidiki

seahorses Greece

Greek diver Vasilis Mentogiannis is campaigning to protect a unique site in Halkidiki, which is home to a group of seahorses, a protected species, which are ravaged by pollution and overfishing.

Seahorses Greece
Greek diver campaigns to protect rare seahorses in Halkidiki

Having already restored their habitat in 2015 with ropes and synthetic plants after it was damaged by floodwaters from a nearby village, he is now seeking broader protection.

This has helped to further increase their presence, he says, though it is hard to give a definitive figure on the size of the population.

“They took to it well, it was very useful for them because they could latch onto it, lie down and camouflage themselves on the rope.”

seahorses Greece


"We are talking about a very small region, I think just keeping the fishing boats away is something we can accomplish," Mentogiannis told Reuters.

He discovered the spot on the Halkidiki peninsula by chance in 2007 and marine experts are fascinated by his find. Swimming at a depth of about 8 metres he recalls seeing one seahorse, and then another followed by another.

"I saw so many, and I thought to myself, 'What is going on here?' It was really remarkable."

As it was highly unusual to see groups of seahorses together he decided to form a team of divers to document the creatures.

“We have spent many, many hours with seahorses, they are shy creatures, and turn their backs on the cameras all the time,” Mentogiannis said.

Seahorses do exist in Greece's seas but scientists say it is unique to find a stable and continued population, especially as the seabed is barren and there are usually not enough plants for the seahorses to grasp and hide from their predators.

There is, however, enough ample food, as they feed on plankton and mobile benthic organisms.