One of the few remaining Mediterranean wetlands and among its most renowned, the Sani Wetlands in Greece were recently struck by an unprecedented snow storm – the worst that the area had experienced since 1968 – that swept across southern Europe.
Situated in the northwestern part of Kassandra, Halkidiki, the Sani Wetlands comprise two lakes, one with brackish water and the other with fresh, and includes the Sani Bird Sanctuary, which is home to more than 220 species of birds and protected by the Ramsar Convention. This extraordinary habitat, together with the surrounding pine trees and farmland, mainly cereals, olives, orchards and vineyards, creates an ecosystem typical of the Mediterranean region.
As a landscape photographer of the polar regions but also as a resident of Sani, I was privileged to witness a unique phenomenon in my own homeland, a truly arctic coincidence of sub-zero temperatures and prolonged, heavy snowfall.
The spectacular transformation of this Mediterranean landscape, dressed in arctic attire, created rare views of frozen coastal wetlands and snow-covered sand dunes. At the same time, however, the freezing cold and lack of food threatened the existence of the wetlands’ wildlife, particularly that of the bird population.
I felt truly blessed by nature to have had the chance to live and photograph this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Fokion L. Zissiadis