The Saronic Gulf coasts of the Aegean Sea are some of the most popular and well known seascapes in all of Greece. They surround an important and heavily populated county; the prefecture of Attica. This includes the capital city of Athens, and therefore thousands of people use this coastal area as a base for their summer and winter water based activities. Our goal within this Project is to map out the current state of underwater conditions and environmental degradation that has occurred from the continuous and intense presence of visitors and boat traffic.
We have chosen Vouliagmeni Cove as the first Greek Project Baseline Station for the gathering and recording of data. Vouliagmeni is one of the main individual coves in the Saronic Gulf. It is a very popular choice for both swimmers and divers alike, as it serves as a perfect base for a wide range of scuba activities due to easy and quick access. It is also the nearest weather protected cove in the southern suburbs of Athens. Our goal is to record and document the existing conditions at the site. Large numbers of divers visit this bay throughout their diving careers, so it is important for us to highlight this area of outstanding natural beauty. By doing this, we aim to raise awareness that our seas need protecting for future generations and that action needs to be taken now.
The Legrena site is located south of Athens, and is accessed from the winding sea road to the temple of Poseidon at Sounion. Three fish farms operate in these waters, one close offshore and two others off the nearby island of Patroklos. Station SGL2 was established outside the perimeter of the fish farm closest to the mainland, in 15 meters of water. This farm consists of about 20 cages, and has operated in this location for several years. Each cage may contain between 60,000 and 100,000 farmed fish, which include sea bream and sea bass. Wild fish life outside the cages in this area is relatively abundant, perhaps as a result of outwash from the nearby fishpens. Derelict gear litters the bottom in many places. This site is also well-used by recreational divers, who are sometimes given permission to dive beneath the cages, where wild tuna have often been spotted. The aim of this station is to observe any visible impacts from the fish farms on this popular weekend recreational dive site.