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Flora and Fauna in the Mediterranean Sea

The Mediterranean lies between three continents - Europe, Asia and Africa, covering an area of approximately 2.5 million square kilometers. While it exibits a low level of biological productivity, it is characterised by a relatively high degree of biological diversity. The fauna includes many endemic species and is considered "richer" than that of the Atlantic coasts.

Within the Mediterranean there is a gradient of increasing species diversity from east to west. The southeast corner, the Levant basin is the poorest area. The benthic and littoral populations show a similar change in species diversity and abundance which decrease from west to east and from northern Adriatic to south.

The coastal marine area, which stretches from the shore to the outer extent of the continental shelf, shelters rich ecosystems. Among these ecosystems, the rocky intertidals, estuaries, and, above all, seagrass meadows are of significant ecological value.

The Mediterranean marine vegetation includes about 1000 macroscopic species. This vegetation occurs mainly in shallow waters, that comprise less than 10% of the Mediterranean surface.

The seagrass meadows are important habitat especially for fish. They, together with the wetlands, produce more than 80% of the annual fish yeild in the Mediterranean. Seagrass is endangered by all the impact of human pressure on the shore. They are now threatened by the invasion of an exotic tropical species, Caulepra taxiflora, that was accidentally released in 1984 and has now spread over nearly 2000 hectares.

As for the fauna the Mediterranean sea houses 6% of the world's species in less than 1% of world ocean ares. The majority of Mediterranean species are of Atlantic origin (~67%). Migrants through the Suez Canal represent 5% of the total but 12% of the southeastern part of the Mediterranean. Endemism is about 28%.


Here we have made un attempt to collect links to sites with international conventions, documents and preservation associations, as well as to the sites of the different protected areas and sites with nice images of the flora and fauna in the Mediterranean sea.

 

General sites

 


 

Reservation Areas, Herbariums, Images