Fishing in Greece: marine life that you can catch with simple means (2023)

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Fishing in Greece: marine life that you can catch with simple means (3)

One of the main highlights for any visitor to Mani is the local cuisine. Simple dishes of freshly grilled fish and freshly caught seafood in local seaside taverns are delicious. But what if these simple pleasures ceased to exist? For some, this is already the case in these Covid times. How unlikely is it to imagine that a cataclysmic event, planned or unplanned, could make these simple pleasures a thing of the past?

It's comforting to know that in the event of a disaster, you'd be in one of the best places on earth to survive. The Mani is extremely rich in biodiversity. For centuries, local people have survived by hunting and gathering the region's fauna and flora on land and sea. The Peloponnesian coast alone offers a plentiful supply of free food that's easy to catch with a little knowledge and a few simple tools.

Easy to collect coastal flora and fauna

Many seafood dishes and horta thrive along the rocky coast and beaches of Mani. All easy to find and collect with a sharp knife and net. Here is a short list of the most common edible species you will discover:

Küstenmeerflora (Alivarvara)

Sea vegetables available off the coast are some of the healthiest foods you can eat, providing a rich supply of vitamins (A, B, B12, C, E) and minerals.


One of the most common plants along the coast is sea turnip, sometimes called sea spinach. A wild hybrid of turnips, sugar beets and Swiss chard, sea turnips are a delicious food source. Both the leaves and the stems are edible. The leaves are also an excellent substitute for spinach.

radish(Raphanus Maritim)

With its spicy and peppery flavor, horseradish grows in coastal areas all year round. Leaves, flowers and pods can be eaten raw or cooked. Its leaves give salads a crunchy texture and have a very good shelf life. Ripe pods make an excellent mustard-like condiment when ground, and the roots make a satisfactory substitute for horseradish. Adding it to horseradish adds a lot of flavor to an otherwise bland dish.

stone swell(Kritamos)

Sometimes referred to as sea fennel because of its minty, fennel-like scent, sea fennel is considered a specialty of Greek cuisine. This much sought after plant has been widely cultivated in recent years due to its continued popularity. A closer look, however, reveals this specialty nestled between limestone cliffs along the coastal waters of the Mediterranean. Kritamos are often pickled and pickled in vinegar.


There are thousands of edible varieties of seaweed, each with its own unique flavor when eaten raw, fried, steamed or dried. Some varieties are best eaten raw or lightly cooked. Other types work well dry, adding flavor and nutrition to soups, broths, casseroles, stews, and more. In any case, seaweed is an essential source of minerals such as magnesium, zinc, iodine, iron and calcium, as well as vegetable protein, fiber, omega fatty acids and, in some seaweed varieties, vitamin B12.

Sea fauna on the coast

Several species of marine life are widespread in shallow pools and rocks along the coast. Marine life like this can be dug up and plucked from the rocks with a sharp knife and kept in a net for collection. Almost all shellfish are edible raw. However, it often tastes better lightly cooked, in vinegar and with a hint of black pepper. A dash of Greek-style lemon juice also works well, and some seafood tastes fantastic when roasted over an open fire.


Limpets can be identified by their spiny shells and attach themselves to rocks in the shallows where the shore meets the sea. In Greece, limpets live among the seaweed and can be difficult to find. Once discovered, they can be collected by inserting a sharp knife into the small gap between the shell and the rock. You need to get off the rock with a quick movement, otherwise the shell will stick more to the rock and the advantage will be lost. The limpets have a sea-sweet taste when eaten raw and are delicious with a little lemon juice.

snails(Lictorians Lictorians)

Commonly referred to as winkles, whelks, or seasnails, periwinkles are found in shallow seawater, tide pools, and mud flats along coastal waters. They're small and time-consuming to pick and eat, but they're tasty and nutritious. Before eating, the periwinkles must be rinsed and cooked by boiling them in a saucepan of water with a knob of butter for 5 minutes. Alternatively, cook in a skillet for 20 minutes with seaweed or kelp, garlic powder, and ground black pepper to taste. Allow to cool and refrigerate or freeze for long-term preservation. Extract winkle from the shell with a needle, first remove the eye.


It is also possible to find small crabs in the rock pools and shallow waters and between the rocks of the Greek coast. You need to bait or set traps to catch the larger crabs in shallow coastal waters. This can be done by tying the meat to a string strong enough to reach the bottom and waiting for the crab to take the bait. Roll it up and place it on the net before removing it from the water. Alternatively, traps can be constructed from chicken wire baited with dead fish. The crab can enter through holes in the cage, but cannot exit. Before eating, boil the meat, using your fingers to remove the skin and internal organs.

Fauna you can snorkel in Mani

Many other opportunities to find and gather edible food present themselves as we venture from shore to sea. A simple snorkel tube and mask provides access to an underwater world teeming with life amidst the rocky bays of Greece. Seafood is a staple in many villages along the Greek coast. A landing net and a sharp knife are all you need to start looking for your next water meal. A portable harpoon, trident, or speargun is useful for catching larger prey in passing. However, the legality of its use in Greek is restricted in the month of May. Here are some of the edible delights you can catch while snorkeling underwater:


In fact, there are hundreds of species of sea urchins. It's the dark, spiny orbs found on rocky seabeds in shallow Mediterranean waters. Edibles are never completely black. Look for shades of green, red, or purple with a small piece of seaweed, a shell, or a rock on it. Sea urchins are difficult to handle because of their spines, which can be painful if they penetrate the skin. Therefore, they must be handled with care, gloves and a basket to hold will help. Sea urchins have a slimy texture and a hint of caviar in flavor when eaten raw with a squeeze of lemon.

Mild mussels(Gialisteres)

Like many types of seafood, mussels are another underwater delicacy that taste wonderful when eaten raw with lemon. Optionally, the mussels can be steamed, grilled or cooked in soup with kohlrabi and horta. They are found in many shallow seabeds in Greece and can be recognized by their large smooth brown shells.

Mediterranean mussels

Mussels are a popular menu item in Greek restaurants and taverns across the country. Mussel farms have evolved to meet the growing demand for this saltwater crust that occurs naturally in the coastal waters of Greece. Like many shellfish species, mussels are found on rocky shores and in sheltered harbors and estuaries. Mussels taste great raw with white wine vinegar and freshly ground black pepper and taste steamed in pasta dishes, for example pasta in white wine sauce with garlic and herbs.

Inshore fishing in coastal waters in Greece

Fishing has always been an extremely important industry and a popular pastime in Greece. Just a few meters from the shore there are a variety of fish species in large numbers. This offers plenty of opportunities to catch a meal anywhere on the coast, beach, estuary or harbor with a simple fishing rod or reel. The shallow, salty waters of Greece offer ample opportunities for fishing on:


Considered one of the tastiest fish found in the warm waters of Greece, the dorado is an excellent fish rich in vitamins B6 and B12, which supports the immune and cardiovascular systems. There are many ways to prepare the food. Fried whole or filleted for grilling and roasting, sprinkled with herbs and spices are two popular options.

Red Mullet / Goat

Both are very similar and it is easy to confuse them. Both have distinctive red spots on their scales. The red mullet is considered the tastiest and rarest of the two. Either way, both fish make for a hearty meal when grilled in garlic and herbs.


Another fish that lives and hunts in shallow waters, the wrasse is not the most popular marine species to catch and eat. Nevertheless, they are plentiful in Greece's ports and coasts and can be caught with a line or rod with sandworms or a fish disc.

Other shallow water species

Several other species of fish are within fishing line reach along the coast of Greece, including:

  • Girl
  • Pomfret
  • Dark groupers
  • skinny brown
  • parrotfish
  • mackerel
  • Anchovies
  • Nadel

Fishing from a flat water boat in southern Greece

Boat fishing offers more opportunities and access to more species in deeper waters. No license is required to take a small boat for non-commercial recreational fishing. However, there are rules and regulations that must be observed. For example, you may not use explosive charges, compressed gas or CO2. In addition, fishing with nets is prohibited and there are minimum sizes for catching certain fish species, such as e.g. B. Squids. Despite the limitations of boat fishing in these times, we can still dive to deeper waters from a small boat and use underwater tools like fishing spears (with limitations) to catch larger prey. We can set up crab and lobster pots and use one rod to catch larger species of fish that would otherwise be unavailable offshore. Here is a list of some of the additional species available from boat fishing.

Mediterranean Sea Bass (Lavraki)

In Greece, the word for sea bass is lavraki, a term they use to describe something exclusive and which refers to the difficulty of catching such a valuable trophy. Sea bass is notoriously difficult to catch and the knowledge of how to catch it has been passed down from generation to generation. A white fish traditionally grilled and served with garlic, lemon, olive oil and fresh herbs. Sea bass is one of the most popular fish dishes in Greek tavernas for its distinctive taste and texture.

smell of sand

The smell of Mediterranean sand can be found near coasts, lagoons and estuaries. Long, slender fish that swim in schools in shallow water and are relatively easy to catch with small baits such as shrimp, fish meat or bread. The fish is a tender white meat with a pleasant flavor when fried, stewed or grilled, combined with a traditional Greek combination of lemon, garlic, olive oil and fresh herbs. The smell of sand is also an excellent bait for catching larger predatory fish.


Octopuses are nocturnal mollusks (boneless fish) that tend to hunt at night and hide under ledges, crevices, and coral and abandoned shells of other creatures at other times. After that, the traditional method of catching with pots is very effective. Hunting with underwater spears and torches (where permitted) is also effective. Search for discarded clams (they eat shellfish) underwater to find them, and finish with a quick jab between the eyes (gloves recommended to avoid a nasty bite). Octopus, tenderized and grilled by banging its tentacles against a hard rock 100 times, is one of the nation's most popular dishes. Suggested cooking methods include marinating the squid in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, pepper, and fresh oregano before grilling it for a few minutes on each side.


Like the squid, the squid is abundant along the coastal waters of Greece. Fishing for squid is profitable on many of Greece's coastal waters around reefs and weed beds. There are several good techniques for catching squid. One of the best methods is drift fishing, which involves moving in a boat at low speed while fishing. But also shore fishing and pier fishing bring good results. Crispy fried squid is one of the most popular ways to eat squid, along with marinating and grilling.

Other species of fish

Many other species of marine life live in shallow waters and are only a short distance from the coast of Greece. Here are a dozen other species you'll find along the coastal waters of the Peloponnese:

  • European anchovies
  • Sardine
  • Bugue (variety of Dorada)
  • Pique
  • Atum
  • dressing table
  • Joao Dory
  • barracuda
  • Octopus
  • Cioba
  • swordfish
  • Hornhecht
  • blowfish

Fishing in the coastal waters of the Peloponnese

Nestled between the warm waters of the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas, the coastal areas and waters of the Peloponnese offer a wide variety of edible marine life. Combined with mainland Greece and its hundreds of islands, few places on earth are better equipped to feed an entire population on wild, organic food from land and sea.

Under normal circumstances, this means cheap, fresh and affordable seafood caught daily by local fishermen. In extreme events, local knowledge is key where fishing is key to survival. Fishing is a central part of everyday life in rural Greece. Many locals know the basic techniques for catching fresh food from the sea. This means that even those with no fishing experience can easily acquire the skills and tools to fish and feed in shallow waters.

Because of these influences, the Peloponnese region of Greece is in an excellent position to weather a national or global crisis when food supply chains collapse.

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