Monday, October 22, 2012

Expeditions: Early autumn surveying on Euboea

October 2012

Southern Euboea - a typical coastal area immediately east of Attika....It is worthy of further exploration! We had a truly deep learning-experience exploring cryptobenthic fishes on the coasts, shores and stream-mouths during a collaboration with Marcelo Kovacic (Croatia), Radek Sanda (Czech Republic) and Jasna Vukic (Czech Republic). We employed a big zodiac and the services of Capt. Kyriakos Dikelas to explore the little-known subject of the tiny "hidden fishes" - mostly gobies and other small gems you find in the estuaries, mud, sand, crevices and deep marine grottos. Several objectives were carried out through rigorous work by the team and assistants: a) the area's first complete list of cryptobenthic fishes was compiled (17 goby species, plus another 2 that were not collected, only observed); b) visual fish census techniques of all fish taxa were applied and methods compared (80+ species were recorded); c) Current protected areas and proposed protected areas within Greece's Natura 2000 scheme were explored ichthyologically for the first time. Results of our study will soon be published.

This kind of scientific survey work should be part of some kind of monitoring of coastal waters but unfortunately and remarkably it is neglected. Fish could indicate a lot about the health and naturalness of the water's conditions. Fish are used in inland and brackish waters as bioindicators for water body ecological integrity, surely they are of interest in the marine environment as well. This is not easy. The sea is open and chaotic and making "fish surveys" practicable is not tried-and-tested. So we are taking small steps, looking at small things, covering unknown waters, one-step at at time. 

I want to thank HCMR and the Museum of Prague for supporting this venture. Most of all, big thanks to Kyriakos Dikelas ( and Nikos Lagonikos (South Evia Travel for all they did to make the expedition a success.

Marcelo Kovacic and Radek off the Galani Reef at Mandili, the southernmost islet belonging to Euboea.  This dive includes a tunnel-like cave that begins at 27 m. and rises to 18 m. 

The magnificent Archampolis Gorge on the Cavo D'Oro Straits. This is the heart of an important and extensive Special Protected Area within the Natura 2000 of "Mount Ochi and surrounding area". We managed to see a Monk Seal just north of this site.

Steinitz's Goby (Gammogobius steinitzi) a small cave-goby that  has been recorded only very rarely in Greece.  The goby is upside-down because it prefers to live that way on the top of marine caves and grottos!
The Banded Goby (Chromogobius quadrivittatus) denizen of the beach pebble-cobbles was found only after peristant work by Radek Sand in the Petalii archipelago.

Black-headed Blenny (Lipophrys nigriceps) - a common species - an inhabitant of shady overhangs and shallow caves. 

My friend ichthyologist Radek Sanda in the beautiful waters of the Petalii Archipelago on a clear day in October!

The Golden Goby (Gobius auratus), a brilliant fish; one of 17 gobies collected during a week's work. Yes this was may favorite...

Striped Blenny (Parablennius rouxi) and Striped Goby (Gobius vitatus - Back); they are said to mimic the young wrasses.

Long days but with a smile! Thanks to the Dikelas crew (overlooking from boat...) who did their best for safety, organization and comfort.
One of three "Sand Gobies", this is Sarato's Goby (Gobius fallax); another common one is the Slender Goby (Gobius geniporus) - I like to call these "Ammogovii" in Greek....but most people can't tell them apart without a bit of study.

Typical pose  of  a "Sand Goby" in situ. This is Buchichi's Goby (Gobius buchichii) at the Kalamitsi beach on the Paximada Peninsula. 
Closer look at Buchichi's Goby ex situ - kept in a small field aquarium for photography.  Note the eye-markings - a good field mark.
Dozens of fish were photographed like this - it is not easy, takes a lot of patience and often some of the rarest do not get photographed. This is a small unidentified Scorpion Fish, but a tiny Splechtna's Goby (Didogobius splechtnai) did not get a photo while it was alive - it was duly processed and preserved for the lab before I got a shot at it.... 

Kastri Bay. The area behind the dunes has a small wetland. A fire swept across the landscape in August.

A small wetland is found downstream of the Adia and Komito valleys; huge wind generators dominate above.  Many more "wind farms"are planned.  In many locations signs of landslides, roading-erosion and more such landscape vandalism scarring the scene even from far out at sea.

Kyriakos Dikellas, Captain and dive-master and guide with Marcelo Kovacic  exploring the southern Euboean Coast.
My teenage son Dimitris joined the expedition during the last few days . This is on Petalii - yes one of the most beautiful seascapes close to Athens....
In early autumn the sea looks like this - this is a view of the Paximada Peninsula west of Karystos.