Natura 2000

Embraced by the sea

The Agency, which includes the boundaries of the Olympos community and the small island of Saria, has an area of 83 square kilometers and is in the Dodecanese prefecture in the southeastern Aegean Sea. A narrow strip of sea separates the two islands, no deeper than 80 metres.

Refuge for sea mammals and birds

Most of the area of the North of Karpathos and Saria is mountainous with a maximum height of 590 and 631 meters respectively. In both areas, steep cliffs and rocky coasts create rugged and impressive scenery. Phrygana abound and, along with the dense pine tree copses on the east coast of Northern Karpathos, they create a dark green brushstroke on the land. The rich flora of the two areas includes a total of 940 plants species, 87 of which are indigenous, rare and endangered. The special geomorphology of both Karpathos and Saria constitute the most suitable areas for the survival and growth of species of endangered marine and avian fauna. The rocky caves on the coast are the favourite home of the Mediterranean Monachus monachus seal. Also, Eleonora’s falcons and Audouin’s gulls nest on the coastal rocks. These birds are a rare, protected species. The majority of the world’s population of these birds lives in the Aegean….

Furthermore, Saria has a considerable number of rare birds of prey such as Bonelli’s eagle, the long-legged buzzard and Eleonora’s falcon. Many migratory birds, such as bee-eaters, rollers and various species of swallows also use Karpathos.

Besides the seals and the rare birds of prey, there are three species of amphibians and seven species of reptiles in the Agency areas. The Rana cerigensis frog is native to Karpathos. The “kohelina” (Mertesiela luschani helverseni) salamander constitutes a sub-species, found only in Karpathos and on the islands of Kasos, Kastelorizo and southwestern Turkey. The “kohelina”, which has adjusted to the island’s dry climate, survives in the summer under wet stones or in cool dry riverbeds.

Local community activities
In the sea area around North Karpathos and Saria is a large variety of marine organisms. Particularly so in Tristomo, which is a closed bay in Northern Karpathos forming a natural harbour with an entrance from the west, and is one of the most important areas in Karpathos for fish reproduction. Of course, the people living within the Agency’s areas, the majority of whom are fishermen, turn the natural wealth to advantage. In any event, there has been a considerable increase in agriculture and stock raising. On the other hand, tourism is gaining ground in younger people’s preferences.

Sites worth visiting

The Agency areas are situated relatively close to the small towns of Olympos and Diafani, which provide accommodation, restaurant and entertainment.

How to get there

Get to Karpathos. By boat: From Piraeus to Karpathos Island (Pigadia or Diafani port). By air: From Athens.