The Naturalist on Chios, Greece.
Mike Taylor , Liverpool Museum.
Marine Fish on Chios.
The clear unpolluted waters of the seas around Chios offer ideal conditions for the naturalist interested in observing marine life using simple equipment. A large number of species of colourful fish, corals, sponges and other sea creatures are easily seen in the many sheltered and shallow waters around the island. A visit to the local fish market will show the potential for such exploration.
The swimmer in the sea off one of the sandy beaches like Kato Fana, Salagonas or Komi, with a mask and snorkel will occasionaly encounter the fast moving and predatory Barracuda, Sphyraena sphyraena, chasing small fish along the edge of the beach. It is particularly fond of Gar Fish, Belone belone, whose long nosed and slim bodied shapes can be seen as they swim slowly in small schools just below the surface of the sea. Local fishermen net these fish and use them as bait for catching the tasty Barracuda.
Exploration of the banks of seaweed just offshore can reveal the delicate and fascinating Sea Horse, Hippocampus guttulatus.
The swimmer will encounter small schools of Grey Mullet, Mugil cephalus, White Bream, Sargus rondeletti, Saddle Bream, Oblada melanura, and Red Mullet, Mullus surmuletus, all prized for their eating qualities. These fish are to be found swimming in small schools over rock strewn seabeds and in areas adjacent to rocky headlands. These same areas often have numbers of brightly coloured and patterned fish including the elegant Salema, Boops salpa, with its pale silver-grey sides decorated with numbers of horizontal yellow stripes. Other fish to be seen here include the attractive Blotched Picarel, Maena maena; Cuckoo Wrasse, Labrus bimaculatus; Ornate Wrasse, Thalassoma pavo; Rainbow Wrasse, Curis julis and the Peacock Blenny, Blennius pavo.
One of the smallest and most attractive fishes is the immature stage of the Mediterranean Damsel Fish, Chromis chromis. These fish are a dark irridescent electric blue in colour and can be found near the surface along the edges of rocky headlands where they hide in the many holes and crevices in the rock surfaces.
A swimmer at Salagonas on the south coast can see many of the fish described above. In the sea below the little church there is an old sailing ship anchor about two metres in length, very near the surface, whose stem and flukes have been thickly encrusted with many multicoloured sponges, corals and anemones over the years. The small sandy beach is a good place to search for sea shells, particularly after the winter storms. In 1996 I was lucky enough to find a large cowrie shell, subsequently identified as an Indo Pacific species, described by Linnaeus in 1788 and named after its markings reminiscent of arabic script. This was the first mediterranean record.
Care must be taken as some fish with poisonous spines occur in the waters around Chios and can inflict painful stings through venom injected via their spines. These include Streaked Weaver, Trachinus lineatus, which occurs in sandy waters about a metre in depth, and the Scorpion Fish, Scorpaena porcus, in more rocky areas.
Numerous other sea creatures can be seen including Star Fish, Sea Urchins and Sea Cucumbers.
Home - Map of Chios - Introduction - Birds on Chios - Wildflowers on Chios - Insects on Chios - Butterflies and Moths - Bees, Wasps and Ants - Flies - Snakeflies, Antlions and Lacewings - Dragonflies - Beetles - Grasshoppers and Crickets - Scorpions and Spiders on Chios - Mammals on Chios - Frogs and Toads on Chios - Lizards and Snakes on Chios - Armadillos, Terrapins and Tortoises on Chios - Marine Fish on Chios - Photographs - Acknowledgements