There’s no shortage of things to do and see on a Mediterranean cruise, and one of the most awe inspiring attractions is the marine life. The warm, tropical climate of the Mediterranean Sea is home to more than 17,000 species of water life, not to mention the many animals that have migrated here from other regions. Here are some to look out for.
Image via Flickr by NBPhotostream
Most commonly spotted 20-40 miles offshore, there are many spellbinding species of jellyfish you can see from a cruise ship. Look for the fried egg jellyfish, which looks just like the name indicates. The most common jellyfish here are round with pink or blue hues and very long tentacles, called common jellyfish.
2. Sea Urchins
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Considered a dining delicacy, you might get a chance to dive for sea urchins during an offshore excursion. These funny creatures look like spiked balls and are usually black. They’re not poisonous, but hurt if stepped on.
Image via Flickr by loop_oh
There are 47 species of sharks in the Mediterranean Sea, but most aren’t dangerous to humans. You’re most likely to spot a great white from the ship, but keep watching for glimpses of hammerheads, blacktips, nurse sharks, sandtigers and blue sharks.
4. Mediterranean Monk Seal
Image via Flickr by Jared Wong
It would be the best Mediterranean cruise ever if you got to see the rare and elusive monk seal. This seriously endangered species now has less than 600 members, but if you’re lucky you might spot one along a remote shoreline.
5. Loggerhead Sea Turtles
Image via Flickr by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Northeastern Region
The most common turtles in the Mediterranean, loggerheads are known for their large heads and powerful jaws. They’re often covered in tons of barnacles, making the spectacle even more interesting. Loggerheads are commonly seen lounging on the beaches of Greece, Turkey, Libia and Israel.
Image via Flickr by SteveD
There are tons of different rays to watch out for from the deck of your cruise ship. The most commonly found rays here are electric rays, stingrays, skates, guitar fishes and saw fishes. These animals are truly majestic as they sashay through the water: a spectacle every cruiser ought to enjoy.
7. Bottlenose Dolphins
Image via Flickr by gvgoebel
Among the most beloved sea creatures in the world, bottlenose dolphins might turn up anywhere during your cruise. They’re often seen out and about in the open sea, but can also be found near the coastline. Fortunately, conservation efforts over the past 40 years have helped restore the dolphin population to healthy numbers.
8. Harbor Porpoises
Image via Flickr by probabilistic
Once believed to be extinct in the Mediterranean Sea, harbour porpoises are also thriving in the conservation efforts of the past few decades. Porpoises can be distinguished from dolphins by the shape of their noses and bodies. Porpoises are shaped more like a whale, with thicker bodies. Both animals are thrilling to observe from a cruise ship.
To get the most enjoyment out of the sea life you find aboard the cruise ship and during shore excursions, pick up a marine wildlife guide for the area to carry on your trip. These guides help you tell the often subtle differences among different species of the same animals, such as the types of sharks, rays and jellyfish you might encounter. Be sure to keep the camera ready for those surprise snap shots!