A Flora and Fauna of Symi

A personal guide to the wildlife of Symi and beyond

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Mediterranean Shags

A trip around the island of Symi on the Poseidon is a great opportunity to see some of the birds that frequent these waters. I managed to catch this small group of shags just off Sesklia only yesterday. The previous week a group of cory's sheerwaters passed by the boat but I was unable to get my camera out in time; a few of them were sitting in the water just yards away from the boat! 

The Mediterranean Shag, Phalacrocorax aristotelis desmarestii or Thalassokorakas in Greek,  is a subspecies of the European Shag endemic to the Mediterranean and Black Seas.The subspecies differ slightly in bill size and the breast and leg colour of young birds.

These birds are exclusively fish eaters and do not compete with man over fish species. Mediterranean Shags can dive down to 80 m deep, with each dive lasting up to a minute. During shallower dives, they use only oxygen from their respiratory tract, while during longer dives the oxygen dissolved in blood is also used. To replenish the oxygen supply between separate dives, they need from 20 seconds to a minute. The shag lays a clutch of about three eggs on a nest lined with dried plant material often located just a few yards from the shoreline. Their breeding season is from November to March with younger birds breeding later.


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