Crete Sea Life

The Underwater World of the Med...

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Caretta caretta Loggerhead Sea Turtle in Crete (image credit: Mark Latter)

Crete Sea Life is rich and varied. We mention some of the endangered species and conservation projects on our dedicated conservation pages.

Crete is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea, and each local sea, gulf and bay has its own name. In the south lies the Libyan Sea, swells ariving from Africa. Trade and transport routes have included Crete for centuries, and her sea creatures harvested for just as long.

The most famous of these sea creatures is of course the octopus, of which there are still plenty around Crete, sea urchins and sponges, which are becoming much rarer, turtles, fish, squid, cuttlefish, dolphins, whales and seals.

Minoan Octopus on ceramic
Striped dolphins of Greece can be seen in Crete

Don't forget the delicate creatures that also make up the marine ecological landscape, such as corals, sea horses, lobsters, crabs, eels, rays, shrimps, jelly fish, star fish, molluscs and sea snakes. Like this spectacular and harmless jelly fish...

Clear waters make for good diving - Mediterranean Jellyfish - Cotylorhiza tuberculo jelly fishClear waters make for good diving - Mediterranean Jellyfish - Cotylorhiza tuberculata

The Mediterranean Monk Seal, Monachus monachus is one of the most critically endangered species in our oceans, and Crete is one of their natural habitats. There are fewer than 600 individuals surviving around the world.

Seal hunting began in ancient times, peaked in Roman times and continued in the 20th Century. Because of their trusting nature, seals were easy prey for hunters using clubs, nets and spears. Today, the remaining seals seek refuge in inaccessible caves along remote coasts with cliffs.

Mediterranean Monk Seal <i>Monachus monachus</i>Mediterranean Monk Seal Monachus monachus are protected by the Monachus Guardian conservation group

To learn more about Crete sea life, take a visit to Aqua World on the north coast. Here you will see turtles, groupers, wrasse, eels, scorpion fish, weever fish, rays and a collection of native reptiles. Take this opportunity to get to know more about the wonderful marine life of Crete.

The scorpion fish has poisonous spines that are dangerous to humans.

Below you will see some of the inhabitants of Cretan waters, with their Greek and scientific names.

Seahorse at Crete AquariumSeahorse at Crete Aquarium

Crete Sea Life - Species

Mediterranean Monk Seal Mediterranean Monk Seal
Monachus monachus
Leatherback Turtle Leatherback Turtle
Dermochelys coriacea
Green Turtle Green Turtle
Chelonia mydas
Loggerhead Turtle Greece (image by Chomik) Loggerhead Turtle
Caretta caretta
Sperm Whale Sperm Whale
Physeter macrocephalus
Striped DolphinsStriped Dolphins
Stenella coeruleoalba
Scorpion FishScorpion Fish - scorpidi
Scorpaena scrofa
SilversideSilverside - atheriná
Atherina hepsetus
 Ornate Wrasse (image by Anders Finn)Ornate Wrasse - gílos
Thalassoma pavo
Saddled Sea BreamSaddled Sea Bream - melanoúri
Oblada melanura
SalemaSalema - sálpa
Sarpa salpa
Dentex dentex

Aquarium in Crete - Seaworld

Creteaquarium, ThalassocosmosCrete Sea Life - Aquarium

The Cretaquarium - Thalassocosmos in the central north of the island, with marine life managed by the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research. Visit for a great day out for all the family with a wonderful collection of sea life, a cafe and complete modern facilities, located at Gournes in Heraklion, near the north coast.

Take an audio tour, a guided tour or a behind the scenes tour. Children under 4 are free, children 4 - 17 years are only €6 and adults €9.

Snorkelling and Diving in Crete

Clear waters make for perfect diving in Crete (image credit: Mark Latter)Clear waters make for perfect diving in Crete

Crete Sea Life - snorkelling and diving are very good in Crete. Below we mention some of the locations you can explore the underwater world of the Med...

Seahorse in Crete (image credit: Hippocampos Dive Centre)

The five coves of Bali Beaches offer good snorkelling and diving in the north of Rethymnon in the centre of the island. Learn or improve your SCUBA qualifications here. Go boating or exploring or snorkelling. See the local sea horses whose latin scientific name Hippocampos comes from the ancient Greek ἵππος and κάμπος.

Contact: Hippocampos Dive Centre

Use airport CHQ or HER.

Scuba diving is very good in Agia Pelagia, due to the clear waters and underwater rock shelves, and there are beginners classes, advanced classes and night dives offered here.

There are beach dives, boat dives and snorkelling trips just for fun. For the more experienced, certificate courses PADI, CMAS and NITROX are offered.

Visit diving locations such as El Greco Reef and Cave, Mononaftis, Daedalos and even Dia Island.

Contact: Divers Club Crete

Use airport HER.

Setting off from Chora Sfakion in the south of Crete you will have access to remote beaches, snorkelling and dive spots with intense clarity and pristine local environments. Local brothers Domulis and Lefteris Tsirintanis runs snorkelling and diving to all local areas including Gavdos Island to the south.

Contact: Notos Mare Diving Centre

Use airport CHQ.

Take lessons and dives in Kokkinos Pirgos, Heraklion with training beginning in the pool at The Little Inn. Nikos Tsagarakis will guide you under water safely with his many years of experience...

Contact: Mare Sud Diving Centre

Use airport HER.

In Agios Nikolaos you can experience the beautiful Mirabello Bay and surrounding beaches whilst learning to dive - do your PADI course here up to Divemasters. Also available are snorkelling and free diving, and a variety of other water activities including dinghy sailing, boat rentals, watersports and sailing yacht charters

Contact: Pelagos Dive Centre

Use airport HER.

Loggerhead Turtle Crete (image by Mark Latter)Crete Sea Life - Loggerhead Turtle Crete (image by Mark Latter)

Explore Crete Sea Life Videos

Crete Sea Life - see a dive off Bali Beach to witness the extraordinary beauty of the tiny seahorses with Hippocampos Dive Centre...

A dive here with Pelagos Dive Centre off Agios Nikolaos, in eastern Crete...

Getting Here

Visitors arrive into Chania International Airport CHQ or Heraklion International Airport from Athens on a 1 hour flight with Olympic Air or Aegean Airlines.

Ferries from Athens port of Pireaus depart daily for Crete with a journey time of 6.5-9 hours. Arrive into Souda port of Chania or Heraklion port.

Fast ferries are also available from Santorini to Crete in many months of the year with the crossing duration of less than 2 hours.

See more details about flights, ferries and car hire below.

When you book with our car rental partners - Rental Centre Crete - you are supporting a local company with excellent service and an easy online booking procedure. We are sure you will be well looked after by Harry and his team.

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Anastasi & Apostoli - authors of We Love Crete

"We trust you have enjoyed these tips from the team at We Love Crete. Evíva!"

Contact us with further questions or feedback. We love to hear about your travels in Kríti and Greece. Let us know of any updates or additions, errors or omissions. Help us make this website the best it can be. Kaló Taxidí!

Crete Travel Guide
Travel to the Greek Islands
Travel to Athens
Crete to Santorini
Crete to Mykonos

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Sea Turtles are our major charity in Crete