Geologists and divers on the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos are to launch an ambitious underwater operation next week to recover dozens of prehistoric tree trunks that were fossilized following volcanic upheavals some 20 million years ago, officials said yesterday. The trunks, some of which are over 10 meters long, form the submerged continuation of a huge fossilized forest whose remains cover large tracts of the island’s western section, and are most densely concentrated around the small port of Sigri. «We have known for years about the existence of the fossilized trunks in the sea off Sigri,» an Aegean University professor and curator of the local Natural History Museum, Nikos Zouros, told a press conference yesterday. «Unfortunately, over the past few years, several have been pillaged or illegally removed. In many cases, the fossils have been stolen but their imprint has survived.» The operation will start on Tuesday, and the salvaged fossils – mostly conifers – will be eventually exhibited in the museum. The trunks lie between 2.5 and 4 meters underwater.