Posted by: underseaencounters | May 20, 2009

The dolphins of Greece

For our 25th wedding anniversary, my husband and I splurged and took a trip to Greece.  As soon as I arrived in Greece, I felt as if I had arrived home. I had less culture shock in Greece than I had when I went to England, Scotland, and Wales (where my ancestors are from).

Our favorite place in Greece was the island of Santorini, which is famous for being the site of one of the most powerful volcanoes ever recorded. The volcano occurred 3600 years ago, creating a huge crater, called a caldera, in the middle of the island. Some people think Santorini is the source of the legend of Atlantis.  

At the Akrotiri site on Santorini, a Bronze age civilization flourished from around 3000 to 2000 BC, reaching its peak in the period 2000 to 1580 BC. On the walls of their elegant houses, these Minoan-like people painted scenes of  nature.  I read someplace that these are the first examples of representations of nature that were painted to show delight and appreciation of nature without religious or ritual purpose. We saw beautiful stylized paintings of monkeys, sparrows, crocuses, and dolphins. Here is a detail of one of the wall paintings:  


What inspired this post was an article I read this week about how common dolphins may soon become extinct in the Ionian Sea around Greece due to overfishing in the Mediterranean. Environmental groups have urged Greece to restrict trawling, to crack down on illegal fishing, and to take measures like having fishermen use larger mesh for bottom set nets.

Thousands of years ago, the ancestors of today’s Greek people delighted in these creatures. I hope they find a way to save them now.



  1. I hope so, too.

    I find it funny that you’d experienced a bigger culture shock in England than Greece! Sounds about right… :), and I probably would as well.

    • I love Britain, too, but it always takes me a few days to get acclimated there–but when we went to Greece, we dropped our bags at the hotel and a few minutes later we were climbing some hill near the Parthenon…and it was so beautiful….(:

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