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The lagoon of Messolonghi

The Messolonghi-Etoliko lagoon is the largest in Greece and one of the largest in the Mediterranean. Because of the geomorphology of the area that has been changed after human intervention in the period of 1960-1995, nowadays the area consists of a system of six separate lagoons that present different natural and chemical characteristics. They extend over 15.000 ha. while the broader area of the biotope includes coastal ecosystems, swamps, salterns and reclaimed areas which are now used for cultivation.The lagoon of Messolonghi has uncountable winged but also aquatic residents, is classified as Environmental Park and is protected by the Ramsar Treaty.

Herons, little ergets and mallards are reflected on the calm waters of the lake; while once in a while they dive inside, seeking their food. The lake has uncountable residents; others are permanent and others pass by, making a stop here during their long migration journey. Lagoon boats (“gaites” in Greek), constructed especially for its shallow waters, cross by its natural seawater basins known as “divaria” in order to catch the famous Messolonghi sea bream. There are also “pelades”, the wooden cabins standing on stilts above water, mainly used by the fishermen exploiting the lagoon.

A traditional product which is connected with the fishing exploitation of the lagoons is the avgotaracho Messolongiou (like Japanese karasumi and Italian botargo). The mature ovaries of the flathead grey mullet (Mugil cephalus) manufactured in the traditional way as follows: the whole ovaries of flathead mullet are dissected from the fish, washed with water, salted with natural sea salt, dried under the sun and submerged in melted natural wax. Also, this is one of the five products in the category of fresh fish, molluscs, crustaceans and products with protected designation of origin and geographical indication by laws of the Greek Government and the European Union. The term of protected designation of origin is used to describe foodstuffs, which are produced, processed and prepared in a defined geographical area using recognised specific methods.

Video by: Haris Krikelis


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