Picture this; you’ve planned the perfect summer holiday for your family. Or a romantic getaway for you and your beau. Just as you started to get ready, you came across a post about shark attacks in the Aegean Sea.
At that point, you’re wondering if it’s true. Are there sharks in the Aegean Sea? Apart from the thought of bloodthirsty sharks, there’s COVID-19 in the picture. Based on that, is it safe to travel to Greece this year?
If these questions popped up, then you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll give you information that will calm your fears about sharks in Greece, and show you how to stay safe during your trip.
What’s the Likelihood of Seeing a Shark in the Aegean Sea?
So, it’s settled- you should put Greece on your vacation list for 2020. But you might have some doubts about actually going there, and particularly, going into the sea. There have been some reports that the Aegean Sea isn’t safe for tourists because of sharks. How true is that? Should you call off your trip to Greece? The answer is simple – No. You have nothing to worry about.
There are some sharks in the Aegean Sea, but very few. And the chance of seeing one is rare. For some reason, most of the Mediterranean’s shark attacks have been around the French coast, not in the Aegean Sea itself. The few sharks spotted or caught around Greece were harmless like the basking shark, thresher shark, and the dogfish.
The basking shark looks frightening, but it’s not harmful. The thresher shark is also quite harmless because of its small teeth and timid nature. As for the dogfish, it’s too small to be a threat to human beings. There’s a story about a local fisherman who claimed to have seen a great white shark in the Aegean Sea about ten years ago.
There’s no evidence that what he saw was a shark. But even if it was, this incident happened a decade ago. Since then, great white sharks have been decreasing in numbers and are extremely rare due to years of being hunted by humans. So really, there’s nothing to freak out about. You can go ahead and plan your epic trip to Greece this year.
Where is the Aegean Sea?
The Aegean Sea; you can’t deny that the name has some exotic and mystical ring. And that’s precisely the mixture of feelings you get from the islands in the Aegean Sea. If you look at a map, you’ll see a section of the Mediterranean Sea that seems to have been sectioned off. It lies right between Greece and Turkey; yup, that’s the Aegean Sea.
We know that the Mediterranean got its name because it lies inward, almost surrounded by land. How about the Aegean Sea? It’s hard to say precisely where the name comes from. There are all kinds of suppositions about the origins of the name Aegean. A group of people says that “Aegean” is just a modification of the Greek name for sea – aigaio pelagos.
That seems pretty straightforward. But there’s a whole other group of people with more mystical ideas about where the name comes from. Some say that the sea was named after the ancient town of Aegae. Others say it was named after the Amazonian Princess Aegea, who died in the sea.
There’s more. Some locals believe that the Aegean Sea got its name from Aegus, the father of Theseus, who killed himself in the sea. Exciting stuff, right? I guess there’s no way to know for sure what Aegean means and how the sea got its name. But you can definitely load up on some facts.
Quick Facts About the Aegean Sea
It’s 380 miles long, 186 miles wide, and it covers an area of about 214,000 square kilometers. It has a lot of collecting Seaways, which makes for a lucrative trade industry. For instance:
- The Dardanelles and Bosporus straits connect the Aegean Sea to the Black Sea. At the same time, the Kythira strait connects to the Ionian and Mediterranean Seas.
- To the north, the Aegean connects to the Thracian Sea and the Sea of Crete in the south.
- The Aegean Sea has over 1400 islands, some large, and some small. The islands are grouped into 7 – the Northern Aegean, Sporades, Euboea, Argo-Sardonic, Cyclades, Southern Sporades, and Crete.
Why Opt for a Vacation by the Aegean Sea?
It’s great to know that the sea has a booming trade industry; who knows, you might need that information one day. But I’ll bet that’s not why you are reading this. When we think of the Aegean Sea, we think of serenity, beautiful beaches, and stunning sunsets. It’s every tourist’s dream destination.
With several islands to choose from, there’s no limit to what The Aegean Sea offers. You can go island hopping or stick with one island to explore it inside-out. Even though Greece and Turkey share the Aegean Sea, most of the islands on the sea belong to Greece.
That’s why Greece is a more popular vacation spot than Turkey. Apart from exploring mainland Greece, you can also visit any of the beautiful Greek islands. Three of the best Aegean islands to visit are Santorini, Milos Island, and Mykonos Island. Santorini has the best sunset in Europe and the second-best in the world.
Santorini’s whitewashed houses overlook the caldera; it’s the perfect height for viewing the beautiful sunset. Then there’s Milos, which is famous because it has managed to preserve most of its natural beauty over the years. The sparkling turquoise waters are breathtaking! If you’re a nightlife, party-loving kind of person, you have to visit Mykonos Island.
You’ll love the lively and exuberant atmosphere with summer nightclubs and famous DJs. You can equally visit any of the 30 beaches during the day, try your hands at some water sports, or go mountain biking.
Other Travel Safety Precautions
Sharks should be the least of your safety concerns in Greece. There are much greater threats than a shark attack, some of which we have listed below.
1. Watch out for jellyfish, sea anemones, and sea urchins
It’s easy to let your guard down when you’re having a good time. But you need to be cautious every time you get into the sea, especially if you’re with young children. Jellyfish stings can be painful, but thankfully, they’re often not dangerous. You’ll feel some itching, tingling, or numbness, but it gets better after a while.
If you do get stung by a jellyfish, rinse the area with vinegar and use a pair of tweezers to remove any tentacles in your skin. You can also soak in hot water to ease the pain. This is the typical first aid treatment for jellyfish stings. If you don’t feel better after a while, seek medical help.
Stings from sea urchins and anemones are a different story. Some species of sea anemones release a dangerous venom when they sting you. It can cause a severe allergic reaction which can be fatal. If you want to stay protected, get yourself some sea sandals and wear them every time you get into the water.
If you’re going to Greece during peak travel time, you might want to get a pair before you land in Greece; they tend to run out quickly during peak seasons. For family trips, we recommend that you pack extra pairs of sea sandals for the kids.
2. Beware of scorpionfish
Scorpionfish are also called rockfish or stonefish. They’re among the world’s most venomous species. Scorpionfish protect themselves against predators by firing sharp spines that are covered in venom. This is not a drill; the sting of a scorpionfish is excruciating and deadly to humans.
The dangerous thing about scorpionfish is that they’re hidden. They live in burrows beneath the sand, so it’s easy to step on one without noticing. Here’s another reason why you need those sea sandals urgently. Even when you aren’t actually in the water, it’s good to keep your shoes still on.
Scorpionfish can survive outside water for up to 24 hours. If you get stung by a scorpionfish, call an emergency number immediately. While you wait for help, have someone soak the wound in boiling water – as hot as you can tolerate.
3. Keep a close eye on your belongings
While in Greece, you should be extra vigilant and watchful over your belongings. There’s a proliferation of pickpocketing and petty crimes, especially in the local areas. Keep your hand on your bag as you move through the streets, so it doesn’t get snatched.
When you’re buying stuff, be attentive to what’s happening so that the vendors don’t cheat you. A lot of the locals try to make a living by exploiting tourists. Don’t be scared; you probably have to be street smart where you live too. So, just be vigilant and observant, and you’ll enjoy Greece without any incidents.
Is it Safe to Go to Greece in 2020?
This year, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), banned non -essential travels across borders. Several countries, including Greece, have recently started to ease travel restrictions for visiting non-citizens. After a current assessment of Greece’s COVID-19 situation, Greece was exempted from the FCO’s ban on 4th July.
As such, they could open their borders to tourists. The risk of COVID-19 infection in Greece is relatively low. To ensure it stays that way, there’s a strict protocol to follow for entry into Greece.
1. Get tested
You will need to show a negative COVID PCR test. Before you leave your country, you’ll need to take a COVID-19 test to prove that you’re not infected. The test has to be taken no more than 72 hours before you arrive in Greece.
2. Protective wear
You need to wear a face mask at all times during your journey. You won’t be allowed to get onto any planes or ferries without a mask. Once you’re on board, you still have to keep your mask on.
3. Complete the necessary forms
Anyone traveling to Greece has to complete an online Passenger Locator Form (PLF). Submit your PLF at least 24 hours before you arrive in Greece; otherwise, you may be refused entry. When you fill the form, you’ll receive a QR code which you need to show to your airline as proof that you filled the PLF.
When you arrive in Greece, you might have to take another COVID-19 test. If you’re coming from a country outside the EU, you’re more likely to be asked to take the test. Test results will be released within 24 hours, but you’ll be asked to practice social distancing and watch out for any telltale signs of infection till then.
If you test positive, the authorities may quarantine you, or ask you to self-isolate for the required 14 days. You might have to move to an approved quarantine location during this isolation period. Even if you don’t test positive yourself, you may still have to self-isolate if other passengers on your flight test positive. If your test result is negative, you’ll be allowed to carry on with your trip as planned.
You should follow these protocols strictly. The Greek authorities are doing all they can to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Your part is to follow the requirements that have been given. That’s the best way to ensure that you have a safe trip to Greece and back. You don’t want to go on holiday only to return with the virus.
Are There Sharks in the Aegean Sea? (The Conclusion)
The conclusion is that you don’t need to worry about sharks in Greece. It’s doubtful that you’ll see a shark, and even if you do, it will likely be a harmless one. So, don’t let the thought of sharks prevent you from enjoying a great holiday. But that doesn’t mean you should throw caution to the wind.
You still need to take certain safety precautions. Watch out for dangerous sea animals, be attentive to your possessions, and follow all the COVID-19 travel protocols. You can enjoy a great holiday even in these times. Have you started packing yet? The beautiful Greek Islands are calling you!