Marine Flora and Fauna
The National Marine Park of Zakynthos (N.M.P.Z.) hosts a considerable amount of marine fauna and flora species. Several endangered or protected species such as the loggerhead sea turtle Caretta caretta, the Mediterranean monkseal Monachus manachus and other species of vertebrate and invertebrate species are also found in the N.M.P.Z. Their protection and sustainable management is a high priority for the Management Body of the N.M.P.Z.
The marine fauna and flora of the N.M.P.Z. expands from the shallower to the deeper parts of the seabed and it is characterized by a large variety of life forms, colors and formations. Both the shore and the seabed are divided to zones according to the particular ecological conditions which are known to occur therein.
Supralittoral Zone
Supralittoral zone is situated between the upper limit of the sea tide and the upper limit in which the wave spray can reach. Since it is permanently located above the high water level, organisms thriving therein are subjected to severe and frequent changes of humidity, temperature and salinity.
Mid-littoral Zone
Mid-littoral zone is located between the low and the high water line. The organisms living therein are well adjusted to tolerate the intense variation in humidity, temperature, salinity and wave action.
Sub-litoral Zone
Sublittoral zone is situated from the lower sea tide level up to deepest point where the Neptune grass Posidonia oceanica (Posidonia meadows –40m depth) or the photophilic macroalgae are spreading in sandy and rocky bottoms, respectively
Acetabularia acetabulum
It belongs to green algae which are considered to be one of the most primitive forms of floral organism on earth. It is a photosynthetic organism with a characteristic umbrella-shaped cap at the top of its body. It can be found attached on rocks or other hard substrates of the sublitoral zone usually forming dense colonies (Acetabularia phase).
Cotylorhiza tuberculata
The Mediterranean jellyfish belongs to the class of Scyphozoa. It has a characteristic shape that looks like a fried egg and a lifespan of about 6 months. It may reach the size of 50 cm and feeds on zooplankton. Among the Mediterranean jellyfish’s natural predators the loggerhead sea turtle Caretta caretta is included while the species is known for its population explosions in coastal areas to the end of summer. This jellyfish is not dangerous to humans.
Pinna nobilis
The noble pen shell is an endemic to the Mediterranean bivalve mollusc which can be found in sandy bottoms and Posidonia meadows. It has a lifespan of 20 years and it can be bigger than 1 meter in length. Their populations have been dramatically reduced over the last decades due to overfishing, bottom trawling, anchoring and pollution). Therefore, it is an endangered species under a strict protection status (92/43/EC Directive).
Cladocora caespitosa
The pillow coral (Class of Anthozoa, Phylum Cnidaria) is known to be the only reef building colonial coral of the Mediterranean Sea. The complex structure of the colony offers new habitats for many small invertebrates and therefore it has been characterized as an ‘Ecosystem Engineer’. It is protected by both National legislation and International conventions (e.g. CITES).
Posidonia oceanica

Posidonia oceanica (Neptune grass) grows at depths varying from 5 to 40-50meters, depending on water clarity. It is endemic to the Mediterranean Sea and forms extensive underwater meadows which can be considered as the Mediterranean underwater equivalent of the tropical forests in land. It sustains a large variety of commercially important species. Both the meadows & the dead leaves of P. oceanica that one can find in the shore are protecting the coastline against erosion. It is particularly sensitive to organic pollution and to bottom trawling. Τhe protection and conservation of P. oceanica habitat is a top priority (EU Habitat Directive 92/43) and everyone’s responsibility.