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The Mediterranean Monk Seal

Monachus - Monachus

Monachus-Monachus or the Mediterranean monk seal as they call is a sea mammal that belongs to the seal family. Ancient Greek coins and Homeric texts describe her lying on sandy beaches under the sun. Today it lives in small deserted islands, non-reachable rocky shores and caves

It is one of the largest seal species in the world since it is 2-3 meters long and weighs about 250 kg. Their young ones have a weight of 15-20kg and they are one meter long when they are born. Their skin is covered with shiny grey or brown fur. They reproduce sometime between May and November and the female can only bare one baby seal, usually not every year. These seals like to eat all kinds of fish, octopus and squids. It may travel large distances in order to find food since it needs 5% of its weight in food on a daily basis. These cute animals are quite intelligent and curious and they have the ability to adapt easily to the environmental changes.

mediterranean monk seal mediterranean monk seal

The monk seals were once intensively hunted for their fat and skin. Today they are considered as the main competitors of fishermen as far as fishing is concerned since they often ruin their nets in order to steal fish. This is the reason why seals are sometimes found killed in Greece although there is an effort to stop it.

Pup mortality is high because these baby seals are born in areas where human intrusion into their habitat is intensive. Other reasons that lead to their extinction are over fishing, pollution and decreased reproductive success. These reasons have brought the monk seal to the top of the list of endangered marine mammals in the European Union. It is estimated that only 500 seals of the specific kind can be found over the whole Mediterranean sea and the shores of the North Atlantic.

Today the largest population of seals in the Mediterranean is found in Greece, spread out over the whole of the Aegean and Ionian Seas. The importance of the Park in protecting the seals is very crucial, because it consists of an ideal habitat for the seals to survive and grow in population. Its morphology, position and richness in food are some of the basic reasons that make this location important.

The fishermen that work in the area have helped a lot in stopping the killings of seals and such incidents haven't been reported during the recent years. Because of its high position in the ecological pyramid the extinction of the monk seal could be interpreted as a destruction of the marine ecosystem.


The Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Monk Seal of Greece

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