The National Marine Park of Alonissos and Northern Sporades was established by Presidential Decree on May 16th, 1992. It is the first natural marine park in Greece. In addition, it is the largest in Europe, occupying an area of approximately 2,260 sq. kilometers.
Efforts to protect the area began in the early 1970s. The first decision to protect the Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus Monachus) and its habitats was in 1986.
Exploring a Unique Biodiversity
The Mediterranean monk seal is one of the two remaining monk seal species in the family of Phocidae. In the past, Monk seal’s range extended throughout Northwest Atlantic Africa, Mediterranean Sea, and the Black Sea. Nowadays, its entire population is less than 600 widely scattered individuals. For this reason, this species qualifies as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. About half of the monk seal population lives in the Greek seas.
At Alonnisos National Marine Park of Northern Sporades, there is a unique combination of terrestrial and marine habitats with hundreds of species of plants, birds and animals, as well as important archaeological and historical monuments.
It is located in the marine area of the islands of the Northern Sporades, in the northern part of the Aegean. Beyond the marine area, the park includes the island of Alonnisos, six smaller islands (Peristera, Kyra Panagia, Gioura, Psathoura, Piperi and Skantzoura), as well as 22 uninhabited islets.
The underwater fauna of benthic and pelagic species is of great diversity. Apart from seals, dolphins and some species of whales live in the area as well. The most common species of dolphins are the short-beaked common dolphin (Delphinus delphis), the striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba), the bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus). Moreover, the sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus), the goose-beaked whale (Ziphius cavirostris) and the loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) are found in the area.
The Alonissos Marine Park has two main protection zones A and B.
Zone A is strictly protected and special regulations apply to individual areas depending on their criticality, uniqueness, and naturalness.
To enter Zone A, it is necessary to obtain a special permit from the Alonissos Marine Park Management Authority. Hunting is prohibited.
Zone B includes residential areas with a lower level of protection.
There are no special limitations with the exception of the prohibition of free camping and the use of fire while in some areas there is vessel speed regulation. There are also special arrangements for fishing.
Mediterranean Monk Seal Care Center
It is worth mentioning that on the island of Alonissos there is the only Mediterranean Monk Seal Care Center operating in the Mediterranean. The center provides shelter to newborn seals and is home for the orphan ones.
MOm Information Center
The Center has been operating since 1990, in one of the main buildings of the port of Alonissos, in Patitiri. It contributes significantly to informing the public with its extensive photographic and informational material on the Mediterranean monk seal, the Marine Park area and MOm’s action.
Organized cruises and sailing trips around the Northern Sporades Marine Park
Several boats depart daily from the port of Chora (Skopelos Town) to the Marine Park. You can enjoy the biodiversity of the area and if you are a bit lucky you will see dolphins and the monk seals. You will visit the old town of Alonnisos, enjoy fresh fish and local dishes, visit the Folklore Museum and of course swim in its breathtaking beaches.
In areas accessible to the public, visitors can engage in swimming, snorkeling, diving, wildlife watching, bird watching, amateur photography and video shooting, cultural monuments sightseeing, walking, etc. Our hotels’ front desk personnel will be more than happy to provide you with more information.