The pollution of Greek seas by passing ships is much more frequent and harmful than most people realize, marine researchers told Sunday’s Kathimerini, as the coast guard continues to search for the vessel that left two oil slicks in the Saronic Gulf over a week ago. According to research conducted by the Hellenic Center for Marine Research (ELKETHE) using satellite images, 579 oil slicks were detected in the Aegean over the last four years – a rate of 12 per month. Researchers told Kathimerini that there are many more oil slicks in the Aegean which are not visible on satellite images. The cause of this pollution is not collisions between ships but the discarding of waste on purpose by vessels, ELKETHE claims. «Unfortunately, the scourge of Greek seas appears to be the intentional dumping of fuel residues in the sea, from the washing of fuel tanks to the ditching of fuel to create more storage space,» said the head of research at ELKETHE, Petros Pavlakis. Coast guard officers think a passing ship was to blame for the two oil slicks some 30 meters wide, which appeared at Varkiza and Vari beaches, putting thousands of beachgoers off their Saturday swim. Pavlakis believes ships that pass through Greece are the main polluters of Greek seas. «For a majority of them, breaching international regulations for protection of the marine environment is their normal practice,» he said.