The Mediterranean monk seal, an endangered species
The Mediterranean monk seal is one of the most endangered mammals in the world. Due to the deterioration of its habitat, half of the world population (approximately 250 individuals) now focuses on the cliffs of the peninsula of Cap Blanc in Mauritania.
The Petzl Foundation supports the actions of the CBD-Habitat Foundation * for their protection.
Formerly, the monk seal was present in the Mediterranean Sea, from Turkey to Cape Verde. The indiscriminate hunting of which it was the victim for centuries and the current deterioration of coastlines (construction of hotels and housing) have reduced the population to 500 remaining individuals spread unevenly between Greece, Turkey, Madeira Islands and the peninsula of Cap Blanc.
The last major colony of this species now takes refuge in the cliffs of Cap Blanc, where it is exposed to the dangers of the tides: the violence of the waves leading to the pups’ enforced separation from their mothers induces a high mortality rate among monk seal pups. Nevertheless, the creation of classified areas such as "marine and coastal protected areas" has already helped to double the size of this colony since 1998 (110 individuals in 1998, 200 in 2009), and the number of births (24 pups in 1998 and 51 in 2009). The CBD-Habitat Foundation’s actions should lead to the extension of these protected areas.
Satellite monitoring necessary for the survival of the species
The identification of the seals’ movement is a priority and an essential step in identifying the areas they congregate, particularly feeding, resting and breeding areas. The GPS tagging of individuals is the most effective method to monitor their movements. Individuals are tagged by attaching a bracelet to the base of their tailfin while they are asleep, in order to disturb them as little as possible.
To reach the beaches and caves where seals live, the CBD-Habitat Foundation scientists often descend cliffs, using climbing and caving techniques.
Our foundation was particularly attracted to this project, in which verticality techniques are used to preserve biodiversity!
*The CBD-Habitat Foundation is based in Spain. Its goal is to preserve biodiversity, especially endangered species and their habitats such as the Iberian lynx and the Iberian imperial eagle. For over 10 years this foundation has worked for the preservation of the monk seal. An UICN member since June 2010, it has projects in Spain, but also Mauritania, Morocco and Guinea Bissau.
For more information: www.monachus.es
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