LAKE VISTONIDA AND LAGOON COMPLEX
Lake Vistonida extends over an area of 4,200 ha and is described as shallow, as its average depth ranges between 2.5 and 3.5 meters. It is one of the most enchanting wetlands in Greece, with both lagoon and lake characteristics, and is also marked by a phenomenon unique in Greece: its northern part contains fresh water because of the influxes of rivers Kosynthos, Kompsatos and Travos (a.k.a. Aspropotamos), while its southern part has brackish waters of varying salinity, as it receives water through channel connecting it with the Porto Lagos Lagoon. The climate of the wider region is Mediterranean; winters are rather mild, and summers hot and dry. Flora: The lake’s vegetation comprises of sand dune and halophyte plant communities, meadows, reed beds and scrublands. Fauna: Twenty-one fish species currently live in Lake Vistonida, among which 2 endemic species, the river bleak (Alburnus mento) and the Thracian Shad (Alosa vistonica). Sixty-one fish species have been recorded in the wider aquatic ecosystem of Porto Lagos and Vistonida, for apart from the euryhaline fish of the lagoons, certain sea species enter through cannals connecting it with the sea.
The region is also famed for its diverse birdlife: 264 bird species have been recorded, 141 of which nest here, like Swans, the Ferruginous Duck, the Common Shelduck, the Pied Avocet, the Black-Winged Stilt, the Eurasian Stone-Curlew, Mediterranean Gulls and Collared Pratincoles. A mixed colony of Little Egrets and Grey Herons in the Porto Lagos area is especially significant. The importance of the area as an overwintering place for bird species is paramount; in the winter, visitors can find here: Pelicans, Flamingos, Curlews, several species of ducks (including the White-Headed Duck), Calidrids, as well as Greater White – Fronted Geese. Large predators also inhabit the wider region of Lake Vistonida such as the whiteTailed Eagle, the Lesser Spotted Eagle, the Great Spotted Eagle, and the rare Osprey (during migration). The surrounding area of Vistonida is inhabited by 11 amphibian species, amongst which are the European Tree Frog and the Eastern Spadefoot, and 19 reptile species, such as the European Pond Turtle, the Balkan Pond Turtle, the Four-Lined Snake, and the European Green Lizard. Finally, of the more than 20 mammal species that inhabit the area the European Otter, the Golden Jackal, the European Wildcat, and the Forest Dormouse are especially interesting.