Hellas - Magnesia - Pelion - Pagasetic gulf - Skiathos - Skopelos - Alonissos - Marine park of North Sporades



Hellas is a country located in Southern Europe, on the southern end of the Balkan Peninsula. Hellas is surrounded on the north by Bulgaria, Skopia and Albania, to the west by the Ionian Sea, to the south by the Mediterranean Sea and to the east by the Aegean Sea and Turkey. The country ranges approximately in latitude from 35°00′N to 42°00′N and in longitude from 19°00′E to 28°30′E. As a result, it has considerable climatic variation. The country consists of a large mainland, the Peloponnese, a peninsula connected to the southern tip of the mainland by the Isthmus of Corinth and around 3,000  islands, including Crete, Rhodes, Corfu, the Dodecanese, the Cyclades, Evia and the North Sporades islands. Greece has 15,000 kilometres (9,300 miles) of coastline.


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Magnesia,  is the southeastern area of Thessaly in central Greece. About 70% of the population live in the greater Volos area, which is the second-largest city in Thessaly and the third busiest commercial port in Greece. Much of the population lives near the Pagasetic Gulf and in the eastern part. The capital of Magnesia prefecture is the metropolitan city of Volos. According to the most recent census (2001), the population stands at 207,000. The prefecture of Magnesia includes the Northern Sporades group of islands (Skiathos, Skopelos and Alonissos). The prefecture also includes the Alonissos Marine Park. The prefecture hosts 2,000,000 tourists annually.

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Pelion  is a mountain at the southeastern part of Thessaly in central Greece, forming a hook-like peninsula between the Pagasetic Gulf and the Aegean Sea. In Greek mythology, Mount Pelion (which took its name from the mythical king Peleus, father of Achilles) was the homeland of Chiron the Centaur, tutor of many ancient Greek heroes, such as Jason, Achilles, Theseus and Heracles. It was in Mount Pelion, near Chiron's cave, that the marriage of Thetis and Peleus took place. The uninvited goddess Eris, to take revenge for having been kept outside the party, brought a golden apple with the inscription "To the Fairest". The dispute that then arose between the goddesses Hera, Aphrodite and Athene resulted in events leading to the Trojan War.

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Pagasetic gulf

The Pagasetic Gulf   39°13′N 23°00′E  is a rounded gulf (max. depth 102 metres) in the prefecture of Magnesia (east central Greece) that is formed by the Mount Pelion peninsula. It is connected with the Euboic Sea. The passage in to the Euboic Sea is narrow and is about 4 km. Its main port is Volos

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Skiathos  is a small island in the Aegean Sea belonging to Greece. Skiathos is the westernmost island in the Northern Sporades group of islands. The mainland of Greece and Magnesia Prefecture lie to the west, while the island of Skopelos lies to the east. The name of the island dates back to ancient times. Despite its small size (under 50 km²), Skiathos is a popular tourist destination. It has over 60, chiefly sandy, beaches scattered along the coastline of about 44 km.


The island has roughly rhomboid shape, elongated in southwest-northeast direction. The longer diagonal is about 12 km long, and the island is about 6 km wide in average. The coast is interspersed with numerous inlets, capes and peninsulas. The terrain is hilly, more rugged on north, and the highest point is at the altitude of 433 m. Southern and southeast parts have gentler slopes, and most of settlements and facilities are located there. The main road runs along southern and eastern coast of the island, with several smaller and dirt roads reaching the inland and northern coast. The town of Skiathos and the airport are located at the northern part of the island's eastern side. Tsougria and all other main islets are located a few kilometres off the eastern coast, and are visible from the town.

Much of the island is forested. The area around the villages and the town are farmland. The island's forests are pine and are concentrated in the southeastern part of the island. The island of Skopelos can be seen from Skiathos with the more distant islands of  Euboea also visible in clearer conditions. The mountain top, which has a communications tower, is to the west.


In Ancient times, the island played a minor role during the Persian Wars. In 480 BC, the fleet of the Persian king Xerxes was hit by a storm and was badly damaged on the rocks of the Skiathos coast. Following this the Greek fleet blockaded the adjacent seas to prevent naval invasion and provisions for the enemy of 300 Spartans who stood heroicaly at Thermopylae pass. Persian fleet was defeated there Artemisium and finally destroyed at the Battle of Salamis a year later. Skiathos remained in the Delian League until it lost its independence. The city was destroyed by Philip V of Macedon in 200 BC.

In 1207 the Gyzi brothers captured the island and built the Bourtzi, a small Venetian-styled fortress similar to the Bourtzi in Nafplio, on an islet just out of Skiathos town, to protect the capital from the pirates. But the Bourtzi was ineffective in protecting the population and in the middle 14th century the inhabitants moved the capital from the ancient site that lay where modern Skiathos town is to Kastro (the Greek word for castle), located on a high rock, overlooking a steep cliff above the sea at the northernmost part of the island.

In 1704 monks from Athos built the Evangelistria monastery which played a part on the Greek War of Independence as a hide-out for Greek rebels. The first flag of Greece was created and hoisted in the Evangelistria monastery in Skiathos in 1807. Several prominent military leaders (including Theodoros Kolokotronis and Andreas Miaoulis) had gathered there for consultation concerning an uprising, and they were sworn to this flag by the local bishop.

After the War of Independence and demise of piracy in the Aegean, Kastro became less important as a strategic location. In 1830s, the island's capital was relocated to the original site — where it still remains. Today, ruins of Kastro are one of tourist attractions.

During the 19th century Skiathos became an important shipbuilding centre in the Aegean due to the abundance of pine forests on the island. The pine woods of the island were then almost obliterated. This was brought to a halt though, due to the emergence of steamboats. A small shipwright remains north of Skiathos town, which still builds traditional Greek caiques.

The film Mamma Mia was partially filmed on Skiathos and nearby island Skopelos.


The island is linked to mainland Greece with sea routes from Thessaloniki, Volos and Agios Konstantinos and also to the rest of the Sporades (all by hydrofoil, Hellenic Seaways). Skiathos Island National Airport is located at the northeast of the island, in a valley separating the main part of the island and peninsula of Lazareta.

The modern major road runs along the eastern and southern coast. Several smaller branches, some paved and some dirt, reach the inland and the northwest coast. There is a regular, and in tourist season very frequent, bus line from the town to the beach of Koukounaries in the southwest.

Notable residents

Alexandros Papadiamantis (1851-1911) writer

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Skopelos is a Greek island in the western Aegean sea. Skopelos is the largest of several islands which comprise the Northern Sporades island group. The island is located east of mainland Greece, northeast of the island of Euboea and is part of Magnesia Prefecture in the Thessaly Periphery. Skopelos is also the name of the main port and the municipal center of the island. The other communities of the island are Glossa and Neo Klima (Elios). The geography of Skopelos includes two mountains over 500 meters; Delphi (681 m) in the center of the island, and Palouki (546 m) in the southeast. With an area of 96 km² (36.6 mi²) Skopelos is slightly larger than Mykonos (85 km²) and Santorini (73 km²). The nearest inhabited islands are Skiathos to the west and Alonissos to the east.


In island legend Skopelos was founded by Staphylos or Staphylus (Greek for grape), one of the sons of the god Dionysos and the Princess Ariadne of Crete. Historically, in the Late Bronze Age Skopelos, then known as Peparethos  or Peparethus, was colonised by Cretans who introduced viticulture to the island.

Perhaps because of the legend of its founding by the son of the god of wine, the island was known throughout the ancient Greek cities of the Mediterranean Sea for its wine. The play Philoctetes (first performed at the Festival of Dionysus in 409 BC) by Sophocles includes a wine merchant lost on his way to "Peparethos - rich in grapes and wine".

In 1936 excavations in the area of Staphylos / Velanio uncovered a royal tomb of the era of Mycenaean Greece. The island was briefly under the control of the city-state Chalcis, Euboea since at least the 8th century BC.

In turn the island would come under the political influence or direct domination of:


The Kingdom of Macedon (338 - 146 BC).

The Roman Republic (146 - 27 BC).

The Roman Empire (27 BC - 330 AD).

The Byzantine Empire (330 - 1204).

The Republic of Venice (Duchy of the Archipelago) know as Scopelo (1204 - 1538).

The Ottoman Empire (1538 until the Greek War of Independence).

Skopelos became part of the First Hellenic Republic under the London Protocol confirming its sovereignty (3 February 1830). During World War II, Skopelos fell under Axis occupation. At first it was occupied by the Kingdom of Italy (June 1941 - September 1943) and then by Nazi Germany (September 1943 - October 1944). Skopelos and the rest of Greece returned to democratic style government in 1944.


Skopelos has the shape of a saxophone, with the "neck" pointing northwest, and the "bell" lying on the east. There are not many bays and natural harbors, and cliffs steeply fall into the sea in the greatest part of the coast. Mountains dominate the western and eastern parts of the island. There are several plains; in Staphylos, Ditropon, and Panormos. The main port of Skopelos can sometimes be closed due to northerly gales. The smaller bays of  Staphylos,  Agnondas on the south coast and Panormos on the west offer better protection.



The main port and municipal center of the island (Skopelos or "Chora") is situated in the bay on the northern coast. It is noted for its architectural heritage.

The second largest settlement is Glossa village, situated on the northwestern tip of the island, just above Loutraki harbour, with an elevation ranging from 200 to 300m. It is 25,4 km from Skopelos town. It is a tranquil village with traditional houses.

Neo Klima or "Elios" is a purpose-built village constructed after the great 1965 earthquake to resettle the displaced residents of the severely damaged village of (Old) Klima. It is situated by the coast on the west side of the island.

Other settlements include Staphylos, Agnondas, Panormos, Ananias, Klima, Atheato, Loutraki, Kalogeros, and Milli.


The economy of Skopelos is now fully dependent on the tourism industry which supports construction and other development related industries. Though tourism is greatest during the summer months, Skopelos is also a year round retirement destination for Northern Europeans. Some residents expected an increase in tourism due to the filming of Mamma Mia! on the island in September 2007.  Agriculture, once a staple of the local economy, is in decline. Plum and almond orchards exist but are less extensive than in the past. Wine production from local grapes is minimal ever since the phylloxera blight of the 1940s destroyed the vineyards. Though there is local small scale wine production using local grapes, most wine produced on the island is for home use and much is pressed from grapes imported from Thessaly. Herding of domestic goats and domestic sheep continues and a local feta type cheese is produced from these stocks. Beekeeping and honey production have increased in recent years. Skopelos supports a small fishing fleet which fishes local waters.

The island once had a vital wooden shipbuilding industry and contributed many ships to the War of Greek Independence (1821–1831). Shipbuilding began to decline after the introduction of steamships. The Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition (1911) stated "Almost every householder in both islands (Skopelos and Skiathos) is the owner, joint owner or skipper of a sailing ship." Today the art of building ships and boats in the traditional style is virtually nonexistent and is seen only on the repairing of small wooden vessels. Skopelos can not support its population with locally produced food and goods. Most of what is used and consumed must be imported by ship from the mainland. Prices for food and consumer goods reflect the added expense of transportation. By law the Greek government collects less Value Added Tax for food and drink purchased on the islands  than for similar items purchased in mainland Greece . Still, purchases of food and drink run 10 percent higher in Skopelos than on the mainland. Most building materials, including sand, must also be imported. Gasoline or petrol costs are, at minimum, fifteen percent higher than on the mainland. 

Skopelos is a matrilineal society. Wealth is passed on via the female line. By custom, the parents of each Skopelitan bride provide the new couple with at least a house and some property. The house and property remain in the bride's name. This custom is particularly insular as in most other parts of Greece, especially on the mainland and Crete, wealth is patrilineal.

Local food production

Olives and olive oil: Olive oil plays a role in the Skopelos diet, being the basis of all recipes of traditional cuisine. The most prevalent olive is the "Pelion" variety, larger and rounder than the "Kalamata". For eating the olives are cured both in the unripened and the ripened stages.

Feta: A semi-soft, crumbly, well-salted white cheese made from goat milk. Used in Skopelos cheese pie and other vegetable pies, added to salads and served with meals.

Cheese Pie: Not by definition a real pie, but a tiropita, a deep fried spiral of cheese stuffed phyllo dough. The pie is generally about 15 cm in diameter and 3 cm high.

Honey: Honey in Skopelos is mainly pine honey from conifer trees and flower-honey from the nectar of fruit trees and wild flowers.

Prunes: Oven or sun dried Blue or Red Plums.


Skopelos is one of the greenest islands in the Aegean Sea. The island has a wide range of flowers, trees and shrubs. The local vegetation is chiefly made up of forests of Aleppo Pines (Pinus halepensis), Kermes Oaks (Quercus coccifera), a small forest of Holm Oaks (Quercus ilex), Oleo-Ceratonion maquis, fruit trees and olive groves. The pine forests on Skopelos have replaced oak species that predominated in the past; this is due to a preference for pine trees, since their timber is widely used for ship construction. 


As "The Green and Blue Island", Skopelos lags behind urban Greece in rubbish recycling and sewage treatment. Currently there is no rubbish recycling program in Skopelos. Solid and hazardous waste is deposited in a landfill or dumped unofficially on untended public or private land. Periodically families of Roma people come to Skopelos to collect scrap metal from areas around the island where trash has been illegally dumped. The scrap metal is removed from the island by lorry and sold on the mainland. Beer and bulk wine bottles are recycled by the distributors. There is a deposit collected for each bottle at time of purchase which is redeemed upon return.

Water resources

The sources of the municipal water supply are various spring fed tanks located around the island. The three island communities supply water within a limited but expanding part of their jurisdictions. Homes outside the municipal water system use wells or cisterns to collect rain water. There are plans to construct an artificial lake in the area of Panormos to supply water to farmers. Private water wells supply some agricultural needs and water from these wells can be transported by lorry to outlying areas to refill cisterns or swimming pools. The municipal water is good quality. As most natural source water in limestone environments the water has a high calcium content.

Construction of a 4,836,400 Euro wastewater treatment plant started in March 2007. Since 2010 sewage from the main town is treated at the wastewater plant. The settlement at Agnondas has its own wastewater treatment facility which has been operating since 2005. Homes and hotels outside of the sewage grid use cesspool systems.

Alternative energy

Over the past 30 years residents have begun to use solar collectors for hot water. With about 2,400 hours of sunlight per year Skopelos has the potential to increase its solar energy use and to develop alternative sources for energy which make use of a frequent and steady northerly wind. Major construction and mass tourism development projects for hotels and tourist housing have not yet embraced the concept of alternative resources. Most recently built projects rely on electricity generated on the mainland, even for hot water. The projected demand for electricity in Skopelos has caused problems in Skiathos. The Public Power Corporation had plans to run a new line to Skopelos from the mainland under the sea to Skiathos, then overland via electricity pylons and back under the sea to Skopelos. Residents of Skiathos organised a protest to stop the project and the matter is in the hands of the Greek judicial system.



Skopelos has a variety of fauna - including about 60 species of wild birds-native and migratory. There are several birds of prey, most common are the Eleonora's Falcon (Falco Eleonorae), the European Scops Owl (Otus Scops) and the Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo). Also kestrels, eagles, and vultures can be seen. Very obvious throughout the island is the Hooded Crow (Corvus cornix). Occasionally Grey Herons and kingfishers and more commonly the Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo), the Herring gull (Larus argentatus) and the Yellow-legged Gull (arus michahellis) are seen along the coast. Severe winter weather can introduced rarely seen mainland birds temporarily. In March 2007 the Municipal Authorities cleaned a wetland habitat near the town beach at the outlet to the sea of Skopelos' only permanently flowing stream. The area had been home to frogs and the birds that fed on them.


The Northern Sporades are one of the prime breeding areas of the Mediterranean Monk Seal (Monachus monachus) an endangered species. The main threat to Monachus monachus is man and his activities. Often deliberately killed or accidentally caught in fishing equipment, its food sources are declining also. In addition, marine pollution and uncontrolled tourism are causing the destruction of The seal's natural habitat. The establishment in 1992 of the National Marine Park of Alonnissos-Northern Sporades was an effort to protect this species by restricting human encroachment on seal breeding areas. Wild land mammals include Pine Martens (Martes martes), Brown Rats (Rattus norvegicus) and mice, the Southern White-breasted Hedgehog (Erinaceus concolor), bats and, though declining in numbers, European Hares. A mating pair of Fallow Deer (Dama dama) have been privately reintroduced to the island. A population of feral cats exists in and around areas of human habitation.


The island is home to a variety of reptiles. The Balkan Terrapin (Mauremys rivulata) can be found near fresh water along with the Greek Marsh Frog (Pelophylax kurtmuelleri) though this habitat is slowly disappearing due to development. The Balkan Wall Lizard (Podarcis taurica) is seen regularly in daylight in warm weather and the Hemidactylus turcicus at night. A larger lizard is the Balkan Green Lizard (Lacerta trilineata). Several varieties of snakes can be observed: the Montpellier Snake (Malpolon monspessulanus), the Leopard Snake (Elephe situla), the Large Whip Snake (Coluber jugularis), the Grass Snake (Natrix natrix), and a species of viper.


In or near or fresh water there is sometimes found the Balkan Frog (Pelophylax kurtmuelleri) and the European tree frog (Hyla arborea). Near or away from water there are Common Toads (Bufo bufo).

Domesticated animals

The island has its own acknowledged breed of goat, named after it. The Skopelos goat is one breed in the southern multicoloured group. It is a relative of the wild goat of the island of Gioura. The main occurrences of this species are in Skopelos, Alonissos and Skiathos.  Sheep herds on the island belong to a distinctive group called the "Skopelos Sheep" breed.

Architectural heritage

The town of Skopelos was honoured as a Traditional Settlement of Outstanding Beauty (19/10/1978 Presidential Decree 594,13-11/78, signed by President of Greece Konstantinos Tsatsos). This is the Greek equivalent of a site of Outstanding Architectural Inheritance. The building code for new construction and renovation within the village reflects some restrictions due to the Traditional Settlement decree. Some restrictions stipulate that no new buildings shall be of more than two stories, there must be a sloped cermamic or stone roof in the traditional style, and doors, windows and balconies be made of wood.


The island has more than 360 churches and chapels. Most are closed through the years except for the feast day of whom or whatever the church has been dedicated. Most have been privately built. The oldest existing ecclesiastical structure is the basilica of Agios Athanasios built in the 11th century and located in the Kastro area. All except one of the churches on the island observe the Greek Orthodox faith. The remaining church hosts a small enclave of Jehovah's Witnesses. Christianity was formalized in Skopelos by the appointment of the Bishop Riginos in the 4th century. Under the Reign of the Emperor Julian the Apostate, Riginos was martyred in 362 AD The saint's feast day is February 25 - a holiday on the island.


Car ownership in Greece between 1990 and 2004 increased by 121%. Skopelos reflects this trend and the local authorities are hard pressed to deal with the increased traffic and parking issues. Along with the resident population of cars, the burden of tourist and summer resident vehicles and the availability of rental cars and motorbikes has created problems for which solutions have not yet been found. The construction of a large asphalt parking area along the waterfront in the late 1990s has done little to address the parking problems facing the town of Skopelos. During the summer the population of the island increases from about 5,000 to between 15,000 to 20,000  The island is served by commuter hydrofoils and ferryboats from the ports of  Volos Magnesia and Agios Konstantinos, Phthiotis on mainland Greece which also allows connections to and from Alonissos and Skiathos. In summer there is a ferry to and from Thessaloniki and Kymi in Euboea. Skopelos has one main road which links the three main villages by coach several times daily. In the mid 1980s the mayor's council voted to apply to the Ministry of the Interior for the construction of an airport. The application was denied. There is a heliport in case of medical emergencies.


The length of the coastline of Skopelos is 67 km. Due to the island's mountainous terrain most of the coast is inaccessible. The following are beaches accessible by road or trail: Staphylos, Velanio (the unofficial nudism beach), Agnondas, Limnonari, Panormos, Adrines, Milia, Kastani, Elios, Hovolo, Armenopetra, Kalives, Glyfoneri, Glysteri, Perivoliou, Keramoto, Chondrogiorgos.

Notable Skopelitans

Fani Palli-Petralia - Former Minister of Employment and Social Security 2007-2009. Former Minister of Tourism 2006-2007

Nikolaides family : Nikolakis Hatzistamatis, the founder of the Nikolaides family was born in the island of Skiathos around 1770. He moved to Skopelos where he served as one of the island's highest officials. Nikolakis Hatzistamatis is mentioned by the Greek author Alexandros Papadiamantis in the novel "Hatzopoulo". His only son Jannios (1800–1885), changed the family name to Nikolaides. Jannios also served in high offices. Descendants of the above are the present donators of the Folklore Museum of Skopelos.

Cat Cora (Katerina Karagiozi) - a Greek-American professional chef best known for her featured role as an "Iron Chef" on the Food Network television show Iron Chef America.

Popular culture

Skopelos and its neighbour Skiathos were the filming locations of the 2008 film Mamma Mia. The wedding procession was filmed at the Agios Ioannis Chapel near Glossa.

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Alonissos, is a Greek island in the Aegean Sea. After Skiathos and Skopelos it is the third member of the Northern Sporades. It is 3 km (2 nm) E of the island of Skopelos. Alonissos is also the name of a village on the island, as well as the municipality that encompasses the island and the village.The village of Alonissos is located on the southern part of the island. It is locally known as Chora. The main port of the island is located in the southeast and is called Patitiri. There is ferry and hydrofoil service from Patitiri to Volos, Agios Konstantinos, and Thessaloniki on the mainland and to the islands of Skiathos, Skopelos and Skyros. The bay at the southern end of the island is also called Alonissos. The Municipality of Alonissos includes the other islands of Adelfoi, Gioura, KyraPanagia (Pelagos), Peristera, Piperi,  Psathoura and Skantzoura.


In the Middle Ages and until the 19th century, the village was known as Chiliodromia which means a thousand routes. Other names included Liadromia and Heliodromia. In ancient times, the place was known as Ikos Evonymos Kyriakos


The island at its widest is 4.5 km from northwest to southeast and at its longest is 20 km from southwest to northeast. The island is mostly limestone. It is located east of mainland Greece and Magnesia, northeast of Euboea and northwest of the island of Skyros. Alonissos has one main road which leads to three villages in the western part of the island and several unused roads throughout the island.

The island

Agriculture is widespread on Alonissos, predominantly mixed farming and vineyards. The main products are almonds, grapes, figs and olives. Spruce trees are abundant on the island. While fishing is a popular profession on the island, tourism is now the main industry.

Housing traditionally consists of closely constructed houses with stone walls, which, until 1965, were centered around the capital. A small fortress protected against enemies and pirates. The island and the village were heavily damaged in the 1965 earthquake. Many inhabitants returned not to the village of Alonissos, but to Patitiri. The old village has been restored in recent years, with rebuilt houses now utilised for tourism.

The beaches around the island consist of pebbles. The ecosystem in the north side of the island is in good condition. The Mediterranean Monk Seal (Monachus-Monachus) is common around the island, and in 1992 the Alonissos Marine Park was created to protect these seals and other animals.

Islands around Alonissos are Adelfoi, Gioura, Kyra Panagia, Peristera, Piperi, Psathoura, Skantzoura

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Marine park of North Sporades

The Marine Park of N. Sporades in the area of Alonissos, has been established in 1992, the first National Marine Park of our country, that includes extensive islands and sea regions, of the broadness island complex of Alonissos, with particular natural, morphological and geographical characteristics.

The purpose of the National Marine Park of Alonissos-N.sporades mainly is:

The protection, the maintaintion and management of nature and landscape, as a natural and valuable inheritance into extensive wasteland and Marine districts of North Sporades.

The protection one of the most important and endangered specie, the Meditteranean seal or Monachus-Monachus, that unfortunately is at the top on the list with other species, which are threaten with disappearence in Europe and the entire world.

The protection of other rare and threatened species of the Flora and Fauna of the island.

The development of the area with the right use of the natural resources. The Park is not a shut area. It is an extensive, protectable area of a size of 2.200km about. The philosophy of the Park is the actual protection of the eco-system along with the growth of Alonissos, which is the only inhabitable island of the Park with out any violent intervensions.

Rescue-Medical Care

In Alonissos operates the center of Medical care of Seals and their safe return to their natural environment. The team is always in presence, in order to give the first-aid and if there is a need to carry out any other kind of animal that need's care, in to the center.

The return of the healthy animals to their environment increase the hopes of the survival of their kind.

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