Hellenic Ornithological Society, photo: I.Foufopoulos
Identification of Marine Important Bird Areas (Marine IBAs) - 2 of 2

Collection of oceanographic data

The distribution of seabirds at sea and particularly their foraging areas depend on various oceanographic meteorological and biological parameters. In order to improve delineation of the marine IBAs the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (HCMR) is collecting a series of oceanographic, fisheries meteorological data which effect the use of marine areas by seabirds. The types of data include:

  • Bathymetry
  • Sea surface temperature (SST)
  • Sea surface salinity (SSS)
  • Chlorophyll(Chl-a)
  • Wind direction and strength
  • Distribution of main seas prey species

These data are then correlated with the records of seabirds at sea in order to delineate marine IBAs.

Examples of oceanographic data:

Sea surface temperature (SST) Sea surface salinity (SSS) Wind direction and strength
SST SSS Wind direction and strength


Data analysis for the designation of marine IBAs

The final stage of designation of marine IBAs consists of the management and analysis of aforementioned datasets, namely:

  • Locations of seabird colonies,
  • ESAS records,
  • Coastal counts (from land) and coastal census (from sea) records,
  • Telemetry data,
  • Bird ring recoveries,
  • Oceanographic, biological and fisheries data. Based on these datasets four types of marine IBAs are designated
    • Seaward extensions of the seabirds colonies in the existing terrestrial IBAs
    • Coastal and inshore marine areas hosting concentrations of seabirds
    • Pelagic areas hosting concentrations of seabirds
    • Migrations hotspots

In order to manage and analyze data, relevant database are developed and used. They are compatible with GIS (Geographic Information System) environment and statistical models to allow for spatial and temporal data analysis. In the end marine IBAs are designated on the basis of the Birdlife International criteria for marine IBAs. The inventory of marine IBAs for the Mediterranean Shag and the Audouin’s Gull in the project sites will be compiled by the end of the LIFE project in 2012.


Within the framework of the project a series of databases have been adapted and developed to manage data on:

- Seabird colonies
- Coastal counts and coastal census
- Telemetry and Oceanographic and biological data

All the data that have been collected until summer 2012 are being managed in the aforementioned databases and analyzed by statistical analysis and modelling to determine marine distribution of seabirds. In total 39 potential marine IBA sites have already been identified and delineated based on the distribution and size of seabird colonies, recorded marine distribution of seabirds, telemetry data and habitat modelling and application of BirdLife International IBA criteria.


Recorded distribution of the Mediterranean Shag in the marine area around Fournoi (N. Aegean)

Water depth at Mediterranean Shag’s foraging sites indicating foraging in shallow coastal water.

Distance of Mediterranean Shag’s foraging sites from the nearest colonies indicating foraging at distances up to 7.5km.

MaxEnt model in telemetry data acquired from Audouin’s Gull s breeding on Leipsi. Apart from foraging in radius of up to 10km around the colony, Audouin’s Gulls also feed in coastal waters of Turkey.

A proposed marine IBA in the Northern Dodecanese.

Θαλασσοκόρακας & Αιγαιόγλαρος

take part in the Greek seabird population census

 Identify six seabirds at a glance!

Dark coloured, long necked and short tail

Mediterranean Shag: rounded crown, steep forehead, slender bill, thin straight neck.

Dark coloured, long wings, just above the water

Cory’s Shearwater: brown above, white below, long glides.
Mediterranean Shearwater: dark above, light below, quick wingbeats. Usually in flocks.

White coloured gull, with long wings 

Yellow-legged Gull: light-coloured bill, eyes and legs. Dark grey mantle with white edge, and black wing tips, with large white spots. Yellow bill. Most common gull.
Audouin’s Gull: dark-coloured bill, eye and legs. Light grey mantle without obvious white edge and black wing tips, with small white spots. Red bill. Typically observed close to islands and small islets.

Tiny, black, just above the water

Storm-petrel: very small, white rump like a swallow. Very rare

LIFE Natura 2000

LIFE07 NAT/GR/000285
Concrete conservation actions for the Mediterranean Shag and Audouin's Gull in Greece, including the inventory of relevant marine IBAs

The project is implemented by the Hellenic Ornithological Society, in collaboration with the Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Monk Seal (ΜΟm), the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (HCMR), the Technological Institution (TEI) of Ionian Islands and the Portuguese Society for the Study of Birds (SPEA), with the financial support of the European Commission and the co-financing of the A.G. Leventis Foundation.
Number of downloads:
Last update: October 5, 2012

Coordinating beneficiary

Associated beneficiaries



Hellenic Ornithological Society Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Monk Seal (ΜΟm) Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (HCMR) Technological Institution (TEI) of Ionian Islands Portuguese Society for the Study of Birds (SPEA) A.G. Leventis Foundation
attica group superfast ferries blue star ferries Anek Superfast ANEK
Copyright © 2019 Hellenic Ornithological Society
Themistokleous 80, GR-10681, Athens, Greece, Tel/Fax: +30 210 8227937, +30 210 8228704, e-mail:
Komninon 23, GR-54624, Thessaloniki, Greece, Tel/ Fax: +30 2310 244245, e-mail: