New Colony of Mediterranean Monk Seals Found

A new colony of EDGE mammal number 25 the Mediterranean Monk Seal (Monachus monachus) has been found in a remote, secret location in Greece.

This colony is especially important because it is the only place in the region where the seals lie on open beaches instead of retreating to caves, which seals in other colonies have been forced to do to avoid disturbances. It is wonderful that this newly found colony feel safe enough to rest on the open beach areas which is a reflection of their original behaviour before human pressures lead to behavioural changes.

The population of Mediterranean Monk Seals, which is thought to number between 400 to 500 individuals, has been affected by habitat loss as beaches have been developed and become tourist destinations. High pup mortality has been linked to stormy weather, accumulated pollution and collapsing cave roofs. In 1997 two-thirds of the largest population at Cap Blanc died with the cause of death being either disease or an accumulation of toxins in fish following a toxic algae bloom.

Deaths of Mediterranean Monks Seals have also been caused by entanglements in fishing lines and persecution by fishermen who believe the seals are competitors for fish. Over-fishing of fish stocks also means there is less food for the seals to eat contributing to their decline.

The researchers who found the colony have placed cameras onto the island to study the population remotely and the colony continues to be monitored by MOm/Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Monk Seal. The society is now appealing to the Greek government to make part of the island where these EDGE mammals live a marine protected area and we will keep you updated of ways you can help when more information is available.

We would like to thank Alexandros Karamanlidis for sending us additional images of Mediterranean Monk Seals.

You can find out more about how to support EDGE species here.

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