If you ask visitors to Corfu about the Antiniotis Lagoon, they will probably say they have no idea. And one reasonably wonders: Corfu outside Liston or Paleokastritsa does not exist?
And yet the Antiniotis Lagoon is one of Corfu’s most impressive landscapes, with an extremely sensitive but diverse ecosystem. It is located on the north side of the island, in the municipality of Thinalion, after Almyros beach and Agios Spyridon.
The Antiniotis Lagoon occupies a total area of about 400 hectares and consists of the Kounoufadi marsh and the main lagoon and is a place full of wild flowers and reeds as well as aquatic plants not found anywhere else on the Ionian Islands.
Ecosystem of the Antiniotis Lagoon
The Antiniotis Lagoon is protected by the Natura 2000 Convention because of its peculiarity and because it offers shelter to many bird species.
Scientists working in the area and monitoring the ecosystem have recorded over 90 species of migratory birds, herons, cormorants, ducks, turtles, river turtles and lapwings – a reptile species.
The rarest species in the area is the otter, or “svidra” as the Corfiots call it, which lives in large populations in the lagoon. Although the hunters try hard to prevent it, the otter remains one of the protected species in the lagoon.
Sixteen different species of orchids can be found at Antiniotis Lagoon – the place is overgrown with flowers and wild vegetation and provides an excellent backdrop for leisurely walks, photography and even picnics if you are careful.
The lagoon is also known for its great fish farming, but do not expect to enjoy your fish there as there are no restaurants near the lagoon. On your way back to Corfu Town you can definitely find a taverna serving fresh fish from the lagoon.
Threats to the Antiniotis Lagoon
Although Antiniotis Lagoon is a protected area, tourism development seems to be a major threat to it.
Combined with the well-known indifference of citizens and especially hunters, many local and migratory birds die in the lake, which is filled with shot. According to the local authorities, birds have been found dead more than once from lead poisoning caused by the scattered shot.
The biggest problem, however, is the construction of a hotel complex on the lagoon planned for the coming years, which will take up a large part of the area, while at the same time the Vatopedi monastery is planning to redevelop the area and develop the monastery Agia Ekaterina, which has been forgotten for centuries.
The municipality of Thinalia has already submitted a request to turn the area into an ecological park to avoid cases of overbuilding and cementing of the lagoon