Astypalaia island and surrounding islets This is an IBA in danger! 

Country/territory: Greece

IBA Criteria met: A1, A4ii, B1ii, B1iii, B2, B3, C1, C2, C6 (2000)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 37,106 ha

Protection status:

Hellenic Ornithological Society
Most recent IBA monitoring assessment
Year of assessment Threat score (pressure) Condition score (state) Action score (response)
2019 very high not assessed low
For more information about IBA monitoring please click here

Site description
The marine part of this IBA includes the coastal waters of Astypalaia island and its surrounding islets, excluding two parts: the eastern coast extending from Cape Flouda in the northern-most tip of the island until 0.7 n.m. south from Cape Trypiti and the south coast of the island from the southwestern Cape Tyliakos to Cape Eheili in the southeast. The area encloses a 0.5 n.m. marine extension around most of the island and a 2.7 n.m. extension in the southeast.
Marine habitats such as Posidonia beds, the sublittoral rocky seafloor and the sea inlets are well conserved here and considered as the most representative in the Aegean Sea. The coastline of Astypalaia is characterized by cliffs and rocky shores covered by overgrazed phrygana and maquis. Numerous rugged valleys lead to interspersed small sandy beaches, where natural coastal wetlands often occur, with most important the salt marshes of Vathy, Panormos and Marmari Gulfs. Small islets are generally low-lying with relatively smooth slopes covered by phrygana and halophytic vegetation. Larger islets, such as Ophidousa and Pontikousa, have steep and high cliffs with degraded maquis vegetation, while on some there are abandoned structures, such as livestock pens, terraced fields and dry stone walls.
The seabed descends abruptly from the coastline reaching depths up to 300 m southeast of Kounoupoi islets and 200 m west of Ofidousa islet. Relatively shallow waters however occur, particularly in proximity to the islets in the two large gulfs of Astypalaia, facing northwest and southeast, where seabirds forage. The IBA includes vital foraging and rafting areas for the local population of seabirds during the breeding season. In addition, partly submerged sea caves provide ideal refugia for a significant population of the Mediterranean Monk Seal. Dolphin species, such as the Striped and Common Bottle-nosed Dolphin, as well as the Loggerhead and Green Turtles have also been recorded in the area.

Key biodiversity
The area holds a small but significant colony of the Audouin’s Gull (2-25 pairs) the size of which reached a peak in 1999. Recent records suggest the breeding population in the area has declined. Audouin’s Gulls have been using 5 different islets in this area for nesting. The species forages in the north within the gulfs of Vagi and Vathy near Fokionisia islets, in the southeast amongst the shallow waters of the islets, in Agios Fokas Gulf, as well as in the coastal waters of the larger western islets.
A small breeding population of Yelkouan Shearwaters (40-60 pairs) occurs in the area, with colonies confirmed on at least two islets. Flocks of up to 330 individuals have been recorded foraging in the wider marine area, primarily during the breeding season, occasionally also following trawlers.
Other Species of Interest:
Foraging Cory’s Shearwaters are also common in the area although breeding has not been certified yet. In addition, 14-25 pairs of Mediterranean Shag breed mainly on islets. This resident population forages and rests within the entire coastal marine area of Astypalaia and nearby islets all year round. Individual European Storm-petrels have been recorded 3 n.m. south from the marine IBA’s area. Colonies of the Yellow-legged Gull are located on islets surrounding Astypalaia with its breeding population exceeding 50 pairs.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Astypalaia island and surrounding islets. Downloaded from on 07/03/2021.