S.O.S. for the last monk seals of the Mediterranean
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THE MEDITERRANEAN MONK SEAL
The Mediterranean Monk Seal (Monachus monachus), once abundant throughout the Mediterranean basin, in the Black Sea and along the northwest coast of Africa, has now become rare and endangered according to the classification of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
This marine mammal is part of the pinniped group, which also includes sea lions, elephant seals and walruses. The seal group is divided into two subgroups: northern seals, a group of 10 species that live mainly in the Arctic and sub-Arctic, and monachinae seals, which include species living in the Antarctic and subtropical regions, where the monachus genus, to which the Mediterranean monk seal belongs.
The world population of Monachus monachus is estimated at about 700-800 individuals: it is subdivided into 3-4 sub-populations. It is estimated that 300 to 400 individuals live in Greece, about 300 in Cap Blanc, about 100 in Turkey, and 40 in the Madeira archipelago. An unknown number of seals may be present on the Mediterranean coasts of Morocco.
The decline in the Monachus monachus population is mainly due to deliberate massacres by fishermen; seals come to eat fish in their nets and become competitors to be eliminated. They can also strangle themselves in the links of nets, venturing into them to feed themselves, or absorb plastic bags. Like other species, the monk seal is also a victim of overfishing, which depletes food resources, pollution, but also human activity at its resting and breeding sites, forcing it to flee into caves with underwater entrances.
This partnership is part of the CBD-Habitat Mediterranean Monk Seal Conservation Program.
The CBD Hábitat non-profit foundation, dedicated to biodiversity conservation through various projects around the world, manages the "Mediterranean Monk Seal Conservation Programme" 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 for 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 Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus), which is generally associated with the Mediterranean Sea, also lives in the eastern part of the Atlantic Ocean and in particular in the "Seal Coast", which covers about 6 km on the Cape Peninsula. White (Mauritania). It is now estimated that this reserve is home to half of the world's population.
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.
The population of the Cape Blanc colony of Mauritania is currently growing: Since the creation of the Seal Coast Reserve in 2001, the number of individuals has increased from around 100 individuals estimated in 1998 to more than 360 seals! At the same time, the number of babies born each year has almost tripled from 20 to more than 80 births.
CBD-Habitat is responsible for implementing this program with the Mauritanian NGO Annajah.