Save the Mediterranean Monk Seal

By: Julie Song

Introduction

Mediterranean Monk Seals once were widely spread around the Mediterranean, Black and adjacent seas. But now they're status is critically endangered and their population is currently decreasing. They are already extinct in many areas and in some areas only few of them are left. They are the most endangered pinniped species in the world, so you should help save them! (IUCN) (Flickr)

Description

Mediterranean monk seal pups are born all-year round, and they mature at the age of four. But female can become pregnant when they are younger, even when they are 2.5 years old. They dive 11.6 meters underwater for relaxation and hunting sometimes. There was deaths of 130 seals over a 10 year period and stranded animals in Greece were responsible for 1/3 of it.

Food Chain

Mediterranean monk seasl are carnivores and predators that hunt on smaller fish such as eels, sardines, tuna, lobsters, and others. They also eat cephalopods such as octopus. The seals were preys to Portuguese hunters who hunted them for skin and oil in the 15th century. They go into caves to hide from its predators. (Red List)

Habitat

Mediterranean monk seals reach 2.3-2.8 m in length and average adult lengths were estimated at 2.42 m in females and 2.6 m in males. Pups up to 3 months of age averaged 1.08 m. Adults weigh from 240-300 kg, and newborns 15-26 kg. Mediterranean monk seals once hauled out on open beaches. Today, they use caves with sea entrances for resting. Sea caves used by seals almost always have submerged entrances to avoid entrance by terrestrial predators. Maximum counts at one cave had up to 89 seals hauled out at one time, and never less than 5 animals present. (Red List) (Endangered Oceans)

Adaptation

The Mediterranean monk seals prefer hunting in wide-open spaces, enabling them to use their speed more effectively. They are successful bottom feeding hunters and they lift slabs of rock in search of prey. They slowly adapted to avoid contact with humans and soon completely avoided contact within the last century or earlier. (Red List)

Endangerment

The Mediterranean monk seals are one of the most endangered species of mammals. Along the coast of northwest Africa, they became the target of a commercial harvest for skins and oil by the Portuguese as early as the 15th century. The seals used to damage fisherman's nets with rare attacks on off-shore in Turkey and Greece. So people started to hunt them out of revenge. Currently, there is in force a UNEP/Mediterranean Action Plan for the conservation and management of monk seals in the Mediterranean and a CMS plan for the recover of the monk seal in the eastern Atlantic. Unless there is a quick action, the extinction risk is very high. (Red List)

Credits and more!

Parenthetical Reference:

Red List

Endangered Oceans

Photos from Flickr Yahoo

Videos from YouTube and TubeChop


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