Burgas Bay, location of Sozopol Bay and Natura 2000 Site BG0000146
– Gradina-Zlatna ribka

The site is part of the Natura 2000 network in Bulgaria (Site BG0000146 – Plazh Gradina – Zlatna ribka). It has a total area of 1246.75 ha, including a terrestrial and a marine part (82.95% of the area). The marine part of the area consists of the semi-enclosed Sozopol Bay, the rocky shores of the Sv. Ivan and Sv. Peter islands, and the peninsula of the town of Sozopol. The site supports diverse plant communities, macroalgae and seagrasses, vertebrate and invertebrate fauna, and includes different coastal habitats. Key marine habitats include 1110 – Sandbanks which are slightly covered by seawater all the time (934 ha) and 1170 – Reefs with brown, red and green macroalgae (97 ha). In the terrestrial part, the rare habitat type “Humid dune slacks” is of particular importance. In the marine part, in the southern Sozopol Bay, some of the largest occurrences of Natura 2000 national subtype 1110-1 “Underwater meadows with seagrasses” in the region can be found, as well as 1170 – Reefs with brown, red and green macroalgae, both of which are in relatively good ecological condition and have good prospects for achieving and maintaining favorable conservation status in accordance with the criteria of the EU Habitats directive (Directive 92/43/EEC). This site is strongly influenced by different anthropogenic pressures from the town of Sozopol, as well as the tourism and fisheries industries in the area.


  • Available data

Research activities within the site has been running since 1983.The main research carried out within the site includes marine ecology studies in the shallow coastal zone; long-term functional monitoring of coastal marine ecosystems; assessment of marine ecosystem services; assessment of the anthropogenic pressures and impacts in the coastal zone, including eutrophication and hydrocarbon contamination; assessment of the ecological status and health of the ecosystems and development and implementation of ecological status indices; molecular biology studies based on barcoding; scientific basis for the management of coastal ecosystems, fish resources, populations dynamic and regional modeling (Ecopath).

The site has available data on:

  • biological parameters – abundance and diversity of macrozoobenthos, seagrasses and macroalgal communities, fish population dynamics and regional modeling;
  • water column parameters – dissolved nutrient concentrations (ortho-PO4, NH4, NO3+NO2), dissolved oxygen, chlorophyll-a concentrations, suspended matter concentrations, photosynthetically active radiation intensity, transparency – Secchi disk depth, temperature, salinity;
  • sediment parameters – granulometry, total organic matter content;
  • ecosystem parameters – structure and functioning of benthic ecosystems; mapping of ecosystem typology, ecosystem condition and ecosystem services; determination of ecological quality status in accordance with the criteria of the Water Framework Directive (WFD – Directive 2000/60/EC) for Good Ecological Status (GES) and marine environmental quality status according to the criteria of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD – Directive 2008/56/EC) for Good Environmental Status (GEnvS), all based on verified indices.
  • Facilities

The site is operated by the staff of the Laboratory of Marine Ecology, a field station of IBER-BAS based in the town of Sozopol, Southern Bulgarian Black Sea coast. It has the equipment and laboratory facilities necessary for carrying out investigations on the biodiversity and functioning of coastal marine ecosystems. The laboratory is equipped with facilities for general ecological studies, a chemical and instrumental laboratory, microscopes and stereomicroscopes, and a workshop. Main scientific equipment: spectrophotometer and instruments for sediment and water sampling and analysis, a combined pH/dissolved oxygen/conductivity measuring instrument (WTW), microscopes and equipment for phytoplankton and microbiological research, an in situ chlorophyll-a/temperature/depth measuring device. The laboratory routinely uses SCUBA diving equipment and has a small research vessel suitable for work in the coastal zone.

  • Site related research projects and on-going collaborations

Research projects:

  1. Н-2020 – eLTER – 2015-2019 ( – Европейска инфраструктура за дългосрочни екосистемни и социоекологични изследвания (European Long-Term Ecosystem and socio-ecological Research Infrastructure“. ДОГОВОР № 654359.
  2. FEMA – 2016-2017 ( – Картиране и оценка на морските екосистеми и техните услуги в българските черноморски води, EEA Grants.
  3. ЕЕA – 2015-2017 ( – Methodological assistance for ecosystems assessment and biophysical valuation“. Norway grant BG03.PDP2.
  4. FP7-PERSEUS – 2012-2016 ( – Policy-orientated marine Environmental Research for the Southern European Seas“, ДОГОВОР № 287600.
  5. FP7-COCONET – 2012-2016 ( – Towards COast to COast NETworks of marine protected areas (from the shore to the high and deep sea), coupled with sea-based wind energy potential“, ДОГОВОР № 287844.
  6. FP7-WETLANET – 2009-2012 ( – Enhancing research potential by strengthening a local network of laboratories for studying wetland ecosystems functioning, restoration and management“, ДОГОВОР № 229802 FP7-BS-SCENE-UPGRADE – 2009-2011 ( – Up-grade Black Sea Scientific Network“, ДОГОВОР № 226592.National Science Fund-Bulgaria ФНИ – 2009-2011 – Ecological status of ecosystems along the Bulgarian Black Sea coastline and relation to the structure and condition of macroalgae and seagrasses communities. Contract 218/2008.
  7. ПУДООС-МОСВ – 2012-2013 – Expansion of the NATURA 2000 ecological network in the Bulgarian Black Sea aquatic environment to overcome the average deficiency in marine habitats 1110 “Permanently covered sand and mud seas” and 1170 “Reefs” and 4125 species Alosa immaculata, 1349 Tursiops truncatus and 1351 Phocoena phocoena and partial replenishment of scientific Reserve for Habitat 1180 “Underwater structures formed by permeable gases” and Type 1349 Tursiops truncatus in accordance with the conclusions of the European Biological Thematic Center on Biological Diversity geographic seminar for the Black Sea, June 15, 2010, Brindisi, Contract 7976/04.04.2011. 2011-2012.

On-going collaborations:

INTERREG-RECONNECT – 2018-2020 ( – Regional cooperation for the transnational ecosystem sustainable development. Interreg V-B “Balkan-Mediterranean 2014-2020”.

Institute of Marine Biology, Biotechnology and Aquaculture, Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (HCMR), Management Agency of Dodecanese Protected Areas, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Cyprus, Department of Fisheries and Marine Research, Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment, Faculty of Natural Sciences, University of Tirana, International Centre for Research on the Environment and the Economy (ICRE8).

  • Main references
  1. Karamfilov, V., D. Berov, P. Panayotidis. 2019. Using Zostera noltei biometrics for evaluation of the ecological and environmental quality status of Black Sea coastal waters. Reg. Stud.Mar.Sci., 27.
  2. Berov, D., V Todorova, L Dimitrov, E Rinde, Ventzislav Karamfilov. 2018. Distribution and abundance of phytobenthic communities: Implications for connectivity and ecosystem functioning in a Black Sea Marine Protected Area. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 200, 234-247.
  3. Klayn, S and V. Karamfilov.2018. Performance and Level of Agreement of Macrozoobenthic Indices in the Shallow Coastal Area of the Southern Bulgarian Black Sea (Burgas Bay). Acta Zool. Bulgarica, Acta zool. bulg., 70 (1): 89-99.
  4. Dahl, M., Deyanova, D., Gütschow, S., Asplund, M.E., Lyimo, L.D., Karamfilov, V., Santos, R., Björk, M., Gullström, M. 2016. Sediment properties as important predictors of carbon storage in Zostera marina meadows: A comparison of four European areas. PLoS ONE 11 (12): e0167493. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0167493.
  5. Berov, D., Hiebaum, G., Vasilev, V., Karamfilov, V. 2016. An optimised method for scuba digital photography surveys of infralittoral benthic habitats: A case study from the SW Black Sea Cystoseira-dominated macroalgal communities. Underwater Technology 34 (1): 11-20. doi: 10.3723/ut.34.011.
  6. Holmer, M., Georgiev, V.G., Karamfilov, V.K. 2016. Effects of point source of untreated sewage waters on seagrass (Zostera marina and Z. noltii) beds in the South-Western Black Sea. Aquatic Botany 133: 1-9. doi: 10.1016/j.aquabot.2016.05.001.
  7. Caruso, G, La Ferla, R, Azzaro,… , Karamfilov, V, …….et al. 2015.. Microbial assemblages for environmental quality assessment: Knowledge, gaps and usefulness in the European marine strategy framework directive. Critical Reviews in Microbiology, Taylor & Francis, 2015, ISSN:1040-841X, DOI: 10.3109/1040841X.2015.1087380, 1 – 22.
  8. Crise, A., Kaberi, H., J. Ruiz, A. Zatsepin, E. Arashkevich, M. Giani, A.P. Karageorgis, et al. 2015. A MSFD complementary approach for the assessment of pressures, knowledge and data gaps in Southern European Seas: The PERSEUS experience. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 95 (1):  28 – 39, DOI:10.1016/j.marpolbul.2015.03.024.
  9. Kopf, A, Bicak, M, Kottmann, R, Schnetzer, J, Kostadinov, I, …….., Karamfilov, V, Glöckner, FO. 2015. The ocean sampling day consortium. Giga Science, 4:27, BioMed Central Ltd, 2015, ISSN:2047-217X, DOI:10.1186/s13742-015-0066-5.
  10. Panaiotov, Stefan, Ivan Simeonovski, Victoria Levterova, Karamfilov, V., et al. 2015. Two-Year Monitoring of Water Samples from Dam of Iskar and the Black Sea, Bulgaria, by Molecular Analysis: Focus on Mycobacterium spp.. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 12, MDPI – Open Access Publishing, 2015, ISSN:1660-4601, DOI:10.3390/ijerph120707430, 7430 – 7443.
  11. Todorova N., R. Mironova, V. Karamfilov. 2014. Comparative molecular analysis of bacterial communities inhabiting pristine and polluted with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons Black Sea coastal sediments. Marine Pollution Bulletin 83: 231-240.
  12. Kraleva. E, V. Karamfilov, G. Hiebaum. 2012. Determination of PAH in the Black Sea water by GC/MS following preconcentration with solid-phase extraction. Ecol. Chem. Eng S. 19 (3): 393-403; DOI: 10.2478/v10216-011-0029-4.
Responsible Institution:

Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences

Address: 2 Gagarin Street, 1113 Sofia, BULGARIA

Phone: +359 2 871 71 95 / +359 2 871 91 38

Fax: +359 2 870 54 98




Site coordinator:

Assoc. prof. Ventzislav Karamfilov, PhD