Mediterranean Monk Seal in the Eastern Atlantic. Monk seals have two pairs of retractable abdominal teats, unlike most other pinnipeds. The Greek Alonissos Marine Park, that extends around the Northern Sporades islands, is the main action ground of the Greek MOm organisation. Scientists have confirmed this is a recent adaptation, most likely due to the rapid increase in human population, tourism, and industry, which have caused increased disturbance by humans and the destruction of the species' natural habitat. Greeka? Tolkien). However, it is believed to be common among monk seals of the Cabo Blanco colony to have a gestation period lasting slightly longer than a year. As the Monk Seal is a top predator, its existence is linked to the health of sea. [24] [16], These two key sites are virtually in the extreme opposites of the species' distribution range, which makes natural population interchange between them impossible. Soon after, it showed signs of weakness and it was taken to a rehabilitation centre to try to save it. The main goal of the proposed project, which is led by MOm/Hellenic Society for the Study … [35] On 9 September 2013, in Pula a male specimen swam to a busy beach and entertained numerous tourists for five minutes before swimming back to the open sea. In just a 2 hour drive from Athens, you arrive at Kamena Vourla, a picturesque location where the mountains meet the sea. The Monk seal population in Greece has been estimated to number 200 - 250, representing approximately 90% of the European population of the species. [1] In the summer of 1997, more than 200 animals[1] or two-thirds of its seal population were wiped out within two months, extremely compromising the species' viable population. [49], On 10 April 2016, a monk seal was spotted and photographed by a group of foreign exchange students and local bio-engineers in a creek in Manavgat District in Turkey's southern Antalya Province. Do you like [47], On 13 August 2015, ten monk seals were spotted in Governor's Beach, Limassol, Cyprus. Its current very sparse population is one more serious threat to the species, as it only has two key sites that can be deemed viable. For the past 10 years[citation needed], many groups have carried out missions to educate locals on damage control and species preservation. [15] Also in 2016, a new record of births was set for the colony (83 pups). According to Johnson, the Greek secret service, the YPEA, were against such moves and sabotaged the project to the detriment of both the seals and conservationists, who, unaware of such covert motivations, sought only to protect the species and its habitat. Often these caves are inaccessible to humans. This was the first sighting of the species in the region since Lebanese authorities claimed to have found a population of 10–20 other seals on their coasts 70 years earlier. In more recent times, they have left their former habitat and now only use sea caves for these activities. Believed to have the shortest hair of any pinniped, the Mediterranean monk seal fur is black (males) or brown to dark grey (females), with a paler belly, which is close to white in males. [32], On 24 June 2011, the Blue World Institute of Croatia [33] filmed an adult female underwater in the northern Adriatic, off the island of Cres and a specimen of unverified sex on 29 June 2012. The use of underwater caves may have began in order to make predatory actions almost impossible as these caves are difficult to access. All the other remaining subpopulations are composed of less than 50 mature individuals, many of them being only loose groups of extremely reduced size – often less than five individuals.[1]. The Environment and Urbanization Minister of Turkey announced on 18 November 2019 that a plan was proposed to further preserve the species to allow the sub species of Foça, Gökova, Datça and Bozburun to increase in numbers.[64]. In 1986, the Prefecture of Magnesia signed the first resolution aiming to the protection of the Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus) and its natural habitat. Other remaining populations are in southwestern Turkey and the Ionian Sea (both in the eastern Mediterranean). Although mating will take place in the water, females will give birth and care for the pups on beaches or underwater caves. The whole event was filmed. [4] Males weigh an average of 320 kilograms (710 lb) and females weigh 300 kilograms (660 lb), with overall weight ranging from 240–400 kilograms (530–880 lb). The monk seals go in the secluded caves of Zakynthos to give birth to their youth. The complex politics concerning the covert opposition of the Greek government towards the protection to the monk seals in the eastern Aegean in the late 1970s is described in a book by William Johnson. According to the scientists involved in local projects to protect the animals, this was the first ever documented sighting of a monk seal swimming in a river. Its name derives from its appearance that resembles the hood of catholic monks. The Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus) is a monk seal belonging to the family Phocidae. In the week of 22–28 April 2013, what is believed to have been a monk seal was viewed in Tyre, southern Lebanon; photographs have been reported among many local media. [50], On 26 April 2016, two monk seals were spotted at the municipal baths area of Paphos, Cyprus. (2010) C Michael Hogan (Topic Editor), This page was last edited on 16 December 2020, at 04:25. [56], On 15 March 2019, a monk seal was spotted and photographed by a group of citizens at a marina in Kuşadası. [15], However, the threat of a similar incident, which could severely reduce or wipe out the entire population, remains. During other months of the year, pups have an estimated survival rate of 71%. According to recent studies, biologists believe … The Mediterranean Monk Seal (scient. One of the first coins, coined around the year 500 bc, represented the head of a monk seal, and the creatures were immortalized in the writings of Homer, Plutarch, and Aristotle. The legislation in Greece is very strict towards seal hunting, and in general, the public is very much aware and supportive of the effort for the preservation of the Mediterranean monk seal. It is thought that there are as few as 400 adult Mediterranean monk seals remaining globally, mainly in a small fragment of their original range between Turkey and Greece. The monk seals' pups are about 1 metre (3.3 ft) long and weigh around 15–18 kilograms (33–40 lb), their skin being covered by 1–1.5 centimeter-long, dark brown to black hair. [12], Pups make first contact with the water two weeks after their birth and are weaned at around 18 weeks of age; females caring for pups will go off to feed for an average of nine hours. Cabo Blanco, in the Atlantic Ocean, is the largest surviving single population of the species, and the only remaining site that still seems to preserve a colony structure. As of 2015[update], it is estimated that fewer than 700 individuals survive in three or four isolated subpopulations in the Mediterranean, (especially) in the Aegean Sea, the archipelago of Madeira and the Cabo Blanco area in the northeastern Atlantic Ocean. The Monachus Monachus Monk Seal in Zakynthos: Apart from the sea turtle Caretta-Caretta, another important species that is found in the water of Zakynthos is the Mediterranean monk seal. [1][5][6][7] They are thought to live up to 45 years old;[5] the average life span is thought to be 20 to 25 years old and reproductive maturity is reached at around age four. MO m (2005) Status Report of the Mediterranean Monk Seal Populations in Kimolos-Polyaigos and Karpathos-Saria Areas. Irresponsible scuba diving trips scare the seals away from caves which could become habitation for the species. In the Aegean Sea, Greece has allocated a large area for the preservation of the Mediterranean monk seal and its habitat. Eds. Quick facts. The Mediterranean Monk Seal, Monachus monachus, is a rare marine mammal which’s most important population is found in Greece. Numbers in this all-important location started a slow-paced recovery ever since. It weighed approximately 200-250kg, measured 2.5 metres in length, … The increase of sightings in Sardinia suggests that the seal occasionally inhabits the Central Eastern Sardinian coasts, preserved since 1998 by the National Park of Golfo of Orosei. A new seal species, ancestor to today's monk seals, was discovered by fossil researchers in N. Zealand, changing the current theory that seals originate from the northern hemisphere. [53], On 13 June 2017, a specimen was spotted and photographed by a group of fishermen off the coasts of Tricase in the south of Italy. [18][19][20], Colonies on the Pelagie Islands (Linosa and Lampedusa) were destroyed by fishermen, which likely resulted in local extinction.[21]. Greece, Cyprus and Turkey still maintain a large population of the species, with around 350-450 individuals. It was named Eomonachus belegaerensis (dawn monk seal from Belegaer - the sea west of J.R.R. 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