The Mediterranean monk seal Monachus monachus.
The most important species found in the Protected Area of N. Karpathos – Saria is the Mediterranean monk seal Monachus monachus, which is the most endangered marine mammal of the European Union, and one of the ten most threatened with extinction species in the planet (it is included in the list of endangered species of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature – IUCN 1996). In Greece, the Mediterranean monk seal is considered as critically endangered in the «Red Data Book of the threatened vertebrates of Greece» (Hellenic Zoological Society 2009) and is protected by law, according to the Presidential Decree 67/1981.
Extensive research activities and studies that have been conducted in Greece, mostly by the Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Monk Seal (MOm), have proved that N. Karpathos’s and Saria’s coastline constitute an important habitat to the species. The presence of adult and newborn monk seals is frequent due to the extensive suitable terrestrial habitat in the area. It is currently estimated that approximately 30 to 35 monk seals, besides newborn pups, are using the surrounding marine area (MOm 2009).
Reptiles – Amphibians.
The herpetofauna of the Protected Area is also significant. Important amphibian species are the salamander (Lyciasalamandra helverseni), which is the only endemic of the Urodela order in Greece. It is included in Annex II and IV of the European Union’s Directive 92/43/EEC, and
is protected by law according to the Presidential Decree 67/1981. Other endemic amphibians are the frog Pelophylax cerigensis, which is a new species, as well as the European green frog Rana ridibunda, included in the Annex V of the European Union’s Directive 92/43/EEC, and Annex III of
the Bern Convention. Reptiles present in the area worth mentioning are the gecko Cyrtopodion kotschyi oertzeni, the snake-eyed lizard Ophisops elegans, the European copper skink Ablepharus kitaibelii, and the whipesnake Coluber jugularis, which are all protected by law, according
to the Presidential Decree 67/1981, the Bern Convention and the European Union’s Directive 92/43/EEC.
The Protected Area of N. Karpathos and Saria is included in the «Important Areas for Birds in Europe», since it hosts a large number of rare and protected birds. Of a total of 43 species recorded (out of which 35 nest locally), 18 are included in the Annex I of the European Union’s Directive 2009/147/EC (79/409/EEC) for the conservation of wildbirds, 11 of which are using the area for nesting. It is worth mentioning the resident rare birds of prey such as the Bonelli’s eagle (Hieraaetus fasciatus), the Eleonora’s falcon (Falco eleonorae), the peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) and the long-legged buzzard (Buteo rufinus). Furthermore, Audouin’s gull (Larus audouinii), the only endemic gull of the Mediterranean sea, nests in the Protected Area. Lastly,
the Chukar partridge (Alectoris chukar), a threatened species according to Birdlife International, is present in N. Karpathos and Saria, along with the vulnerable common shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis.