Pelicans of Mykonos | The Story of Famous Petros
Updated: May 18
George Papadellis | SG Head
The story of Mykonos pelicans started in 1958, when a wounded pelican was found by a Mykonos fisherman in the coast. The locals named it Petros pelican (because it survived the wounds, and the word “petros” means rock) and they kept it on the island until nursed.
Unfortunately, Petros the pelican was killed by a car in 1985 (although other silly rumors still travel from mouth to mouth....), but locals brought three new pelicans on the island and honorarily named one of them Petros. Residents consider them Mykonos mascots and take very good care of them. And although the relation between humans and pelicans was historically peculiar, Mykonos pelicans seem to like and trust residents and tourists, and to enjoy their company and care.
Pelicans are large water birds that have a long beak, a large throat pouch used to catch prey and drain water before swallowing, a long neck, short legs with large and webbed feet, short and square tail, and long and broad wings. There are eight living species, of which the four white species nests on the ground, and the four brown-grey species nests on trees. Pelicans live close to inland and coastal waters, where they feed mainly on fish. They travel in flocks, they hunt in groups helping each other, and they breed colonially. Their population has decreased due to habitat destruction and disturbance, and due to pollution.
The Mykonos pelicans are great white pelicans (Pelecanus onocrotalus). They have a length from 1.40 m to 1.75 m, the span of their wings is from 2.45 m to 2.95 m, and they weight around 11 Kg. Males are generally larger than females and have longer bills. They have light-colored plumage, which becomes brighter in bills, pouches, and facial skin before breeding season. Pelicans swim very well. They rub the backs of their heads to pick up an oily substance that they transfer to their plumage to waterproof it. Adult pelicans use body moves to communicate, especially with their wings and bills. They eat fish, frogs, turtles, insects, small birds and small mammals.