The Aegean Marine Life Sanctuary

Europe’s 1st permanent sanctuary for dolphins is under final construction by the Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation on Lipsi Island, Greece. Scheduled to be operational in 2018, the sanctuary answers the demand for refuge of stranded, injured and formerly captive dolphins. The multi –purpose function serves to: 

* Permanently care for dolphins rescued from dolphinaria.

* Provide medical assistance and care to all stranded animals.

* Rehabilitate seals, turtles, and dolphins in need.

* Simulate the dolphins’ natural habitat enabling them to display natural behaviours like diving & using echolocation to hunt for live fish

* Serve as an educational facility that allows research without human interaction.

* Serve as an archetype for the development of future sanctuaries globally

Current Challenges

Both wild and captive dolphins confront many problems, two of which are:

Release of Captive Dolphins

Global opinion on welfare concerns for whales & dolphins in captive display are fast changing and public demand for the shows are declining. While dolphinaria are closing, there is no suitable alternative for the animals other than to relocate or be sold to other commercial facilities where welfare needs remain inadequate and the animals are still expected to perform.


Sanctuaries exist worldwide for terrestrial wildlife, but no permanent marine sanctuaries exist for aquatic animals. There is a lack of facilities in the eastern Mediterranean Sea to respond to marine animal stranding calls, and there are no medical centres able to treat, rehabilitate and release these animals. 

The Perfect Solution - Aegean Marine Life Sanctuary

The Aegean Marine Life Sanctuary located in a pristine and biodiverse coastal bay with minimal human presence, on the Greek island of Lipsi will provide a semi-natural permanent sanctuary environment for rescued, non-releasable dolphins. The Sanctuary will rehabilitate  animals  deemed releasable to the wild.

It's time to stop talking about sea sanctuaries, and time to start creating them."  Anastasia Miliou,  Co-founder

Removing captive display dolphins from confinement in barren, concrete tanks to a more natural, spacious sanctuary environment will allow them to display innate behaviours that they have been deprived of.  The dolphins  will finally have a choice to eat live fish, dive to 30 metres in real seawater and experience the natural ocean rhythm, amongst other choices. Non-releasable wild dolphins, will have expert care in a safe refuge.

Let’s get them swimming wild

The project has solid foundations with irrefutable support from  the local island communities, government authorities and animal welfare advisors. We urgently need you to help the dolphins! Your support will expedite the urgent rescue of its first inhabitants from dolphinaria in Europe and help to establish a rescue and rehabilitation centre.

Donate Here

The Mayor of Lipsi, Mr. Fotis Maggos,welcomes the project: “We are honoured to have this important conservation effort happening on our island of Lipsi. The community here has engaged in this concept with open arms and we look forward to supporting the efforts of this project far into the future”.

Frequently Asked Questions

Consortium Project Members

The project is led by:

 The Archipelagos Institute of Marine Research :

  • Anastasia Miliou - Scientific Director
  • Dr. Guido Pietroluongo - Lead Veterinarian and Director of Animal Welfare
  • Thodoris Tsimpidis - Chief of Operations

And is supported by:

Sanctuary Education Advisory Specialists SEAS


  • Daniel Turner
  • Helen Usher

FAADA & SOS Delfines Campaign

  • Míriam Martínez Macipe
  • Carla Cornella Mirambell

Orca Rescues Foundation

  • Clive Martin