Wildlife and Fauna, Kimolos

The island’s reptiles are typical of the Western Cyclades, where two endemic reptile species, the lizard Podarcis milensis and the viper Macrovipera schweizeri, are the most likely to be seen. These are among Greece’s rarest endemic vertebrates.

The lizard, Podarcis milensis, is restricted to Kimolos, Milos, Polyaigos and Antimilos. It is nearly 20 cm long. The males are vivid in colour with light blue spots during the reproductive period, while the females are brown. You can see lizards almost everywhere, particularly in the walls.

The viper, nicknamed ‘therio’ (monster), is limited to the islands Milos, Kimolos, Polyaigos and Sifnos. It is brown and grey and about one metre long. Its head does not have the characteristic ridge of other viper species. It is worth noting that it is a shy creature which will usually flee as soon as it senses a human presence. They are, however, venomous and you should be careful not to step on one by accident. They can even be deadly for young children or allergic people. During spring and autumn they lie on rocks in the sun, while in the summertime they spend most of the day hiding.

The impressive Goustera (Lacerta trilineata hansschweizeri), is a large green lizard, which is found in humid bushy regions or marshland. Water snakes (Natrix natrix schweizeri) can also be found in small lakes and water tanks. This snake, as well as the other two species of snakes that live in the region (the Tellescopus fallax and the Eryx jaculus), are not venomous.

The Mediterranean monk seal (Μonachus monachus)

The region of Kimolos and Polyaigos is one of the most ideal habitats for the Mediterranean monk seal both on a national and world scale. This species is under the threat of extinction, since it is estimated that its total population does not exceed the 500 individuals, half of which live in Greek seas.

In the numerous marine caves, along the coasts of the two islands, seals find shelter in order to rest and breed. Every year, 6-8 pups are born, while about 40 individuals are estimated to live in the region. As a hunter, the seal is at the top of the marine food chain and the above figures indicate that the marine ecosystem is in an excellent condition.

Particularly important for marine life is Posidonia, (Posidonia oceanica). This plant is the main constituent of the submarine meadows enriching the sea with oxygen and providing a habitat for a great number of fish and invertebrates. If you wish to explore the underwater life, all you need is a mask and a pair of flippers. Unlike the rest of Greece, it’s worth knowing that scuba diving is allowed in many areas. In Polonia, on Milos, there are facilities for diving including equipment rental, scuba-diving courses, and organised activities for beginners and for more experienced divers. While snorkeling, you stand a good chance of seeing a seal. However, seals are very vulnerable to disturbance, so try not to scare them away.

Source: Kimolos High school environmental team (http://gym-kimol.kyk.sch.gr/english/index.htm)

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