Using unconventional sources of information for identifying critical areas for the endangered guitarfish in Greece

Ioannis Giovos, Archontia Chatzispyrou, Nickos Doumpas, Vasilis-Orestis Stoilas, Dimitrios K. Moutopoulos

iSea, Environmental Organisation for the Preservation of the Aquatic Ecosystems, Thessaloniki, GREECE
Hellenic Centre for Marine Research, Institute of Marine Biological Resources and Inland Waters, Anavyssos, 19013, Attica, GREECE
Technological Educational Institute of Western Greece, Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture Technology, Mesolonghi, GREECE


Guitarfishes characterized by special life history traits and comprised a very fragile resource, whereas the insufficient scientific information makes them a group for major conservation concern of the world oceans. The present study aims to present new records on guitarfishes based on unconventional data collection comprised by citizen scientists’ reports, social and mass media search, in-depth targeted interviews with expert fishermen and on official reconstructed fisheries statistics. This multiple-folds analysis represents a valuable case study for determining potentially important areas for these endangered species with scarcity of records in Greece. Results exhibited a high concertation of guitarfish sightings in two areas of the Greek Aegean part, both very close to published sightings from the Aegean coast of Turkey. We found that the axis of North to South, from Lesvos Island down to Rhodes Island is a critical area for guitarfish in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. Additional information on guitarfish sightings will confirm our findings, enrich our knowledge on guitarfish occurrence in the Greek Seas and contribute in future recommendations on their protection, to avoid extinction of these rare batoids in the area.

Keywords: Rhinobatidae, eastern Mediterranean, hot spots, citizen science, Local Ecological Knowledge, Rhinobatos rhinobatos, Glaucostegus cemiculus

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