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S.O.S. for the Mediterranean monk seals

​SCS is committed to the conservation of the populations in Mauritania

​Become an active player and help these beautiful creatures survive!

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Great news:

"Vulnerable" in the IUCN Red List by 2023

The Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus), once abundant throughout the Mediterranean basin, in the Black Sea and along the northwest coast of Africa, is now considered as the most endangered pinniped in the world, with a total population of less than 1000 individuals  living in the wild.


The protection measures adopted through the last 35 years allowed to slow down the decline. Currently there are proofs for a discrete increase of the different sub-populations size, especially in Cabo Blanco (Mauritania) and in the Madeira archipelago, as well as a recent but important increase of the populations in the Mediterranean  sea, with individuals identified in Greece, Cyprus, Turkey and Sardinia (Italy). These recordings led to the change of the status of the Mediterranean Monk seal from « endangered »  to « vulnerable », in the classification of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), in 2023.

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Who is this so threatened mammal ?

This marine mammal is part of the pinniped group, which also includes sea lions, elephant seals and walruses.

The monk seal belongs to the Phocidae family (clade Pinnipeds) and includes 18 existing species. The gender “Monachus” includes 3 species, one of which is extinct (Caribbean monk seal, Monachus tropicalis), one endangered (Hawaiian monk seal, Monachus schauinslandi) and the Mediterranean Monk seal, Monachus monachus, classified as « vulnerable ».


The world population of Monachus monachus is estimated at about 800-900 individuals (440-600 adults); it is subdivided into 3 recognized sub-populations, two (2) in the Atlantic and one (1) in the Mediterranean  sea.

It is estimated that approximately 350 to 400 individuals live Cabo Blanco (Mauritania), and 27 in the Madeira archipelago, whereas the Mediterranean sub-population is considered the most important with more than 400 individuals. An unknown number of seals may be present on the Mediterranean coasts of Morocco. 

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Threats and reasons of the decline

The decline in the Monachus monachus population is mainly due to deliberate killing by fishermen; seals come to eat fish in their nets and become competitors to be eliminated. They can also be entangled in the links of static nets venturing into them to feed themselves or to play or in fishing gears. Like other species, the monk seal is also a victim of overfishing, which depletes food resources, of pollution, but also of increasing human activity at its resting and breeding sites, forcing it to flee into caves with underwater entrances.

The low number of individuals forming only a few sub-populations, makes this species vulnerable which could be easily extinct due to an outbreak-induced massive mortality…

Mauritania population « Seal coast reserve»

The Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus), generally associated to the Mediterranean sea, also resides in the east part of the Atlantic ocean, namely in the "Seal Coast Reserve", which protects 6 km of coastline in the Cabo Blanco peninsula (Mauritania). It is currently estimated that this reserve hosts almost half of the global Monk seal population.


Actually, the population of the Cabo Blanco colony is fully growing. Since the creation of the "Seal Coast Reserve" in 2001, the number of individuals has increased from approximately 100 individuals in 1998 to around 400 seals in 2022! At the same time, the number of babies born each year has almost tripled from 20 to more than 80 births (in average).


We are strongly encouraging you to read the impact report of the Mediterranean Monk seal conservation program in order to understand the activities of CBD-Habitat Foundation whose work in Mauritania is exemplary and fully deserves your support.


Monitoring of the Reserve:

4139 hours of monitoring


Illegal fishing:

Due to the monitoring system of industrial fishing activities, there was not fishing activity in the protected zone.


Births evolution monitoring :

66 births recorded


Photographic material :

11’948 photos have been analyzed, 9’692 of which were used for photo-identification  purposes.

21’080 new photos are being analyzed.

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CBD-Habitat Foundation

Our partner onsite


This partnership is established in the context of the Mediterranean Monk seal conservation program.


The CBD-Habitat non-profit foundation, dedicated to the conservation of biodiversity through various projects around the world, manages the "Monk Seal Conservation Program" in Mauritania. This is done within the framework of the Action Plan for the Conservation of the Mediterranean Monk Seal in the Eastern Atlantic (


Endorsed by Spain, Portugal, Morocco and Mauritania, this Action Plan establishes a framework for international cooperation on coordinated actions to recover Atlantic populations of monk seals and to ensure the continuity of this species, which is one of the most threatened marine mammals in the world.


The mission of the program is to protect and contribute to the recovery of the Mediterranean monk seal population in the Cabo Blanco peninsula of Mauritania and consequently worldwide.


CBD-Habitat is responsible for implementing this program with the Mauritanian NGO Annajah.​

Participate actively in the conservation of the
Mediterranean monk seal
Your contribution will primarily serve to protect
and monitor the seals and their habitat.


The pictures were granted by  Dr. Pablo Fernandez De Larrinoa (CBD-Habitat Foundation) and Dr. Joan Gonzalvo (Tethys Research Institute)

Karamanlidis, A. & Dendrinos, P. (2015). "Monachus monachus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2015: e.T13653A45227543. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2015-4.RLTS.T13653A45227543.en


Monk seal conservation program :


Ionian Dolphin Project_Info (2020)

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