You may think of the mythical phoenix as Greece’s national animal, but you’d only be half right. The phoenix is actually the national bird of Greece, which celebrates a real animal as its symbol: the dolphin.
While Greece may be known for its myths and gods, it is also flanked by water. The coastlines of Greece's 2,000 islands in the Aegean, Ionian and Mediterranean Seas, combined with a sizable mainland coast, combine to total 8,500 miles. This represents the largest coastline in all of Europe, which means plenty of space for dolphins to call home.
These playful creatures hold a special place in Greek mythology. The story goes that when seamen angered the god of wine, Dionysus, they had to succumb to the seas to get away. Poseidon, the god of the sea, had pity on the sailors, turning them into dolphins and tasking them with keeping other sailors safe. Tales of dolphins rescuing sailors have continued throughout the centuries, and the Greeks adore their national animal.
Fun fact: the word "dolphin" is itself Grecian in origin. It derives from the ancient Greek root “delphis,” which means “womb,” as the playful sea mammals (no, they're not fish!) bear live young.