Rare and pregnant monk seal falls victim to Arab instability

This marine animal is considered as one of the rarest and most endangered marine species, and sighting them on the Syrian coast is very rare.Monk seals are shy animals that are highly affected by disturbance caused by humans.

By the end of the twentieth century, numbers of Mediterranean monk seals had greatly declined due to the increase of human impacts, such as overfishing, habitat destruction, marine pollution, depletion of marine fish stocks and competing for food with local fishermen.

On July 22nd, 2013, the Higher Institution of Marine Researches in Syria received a dead female Mediterranean monk seal that was killed by mistake.

The coast guard suspected the monk seal to be a frogman possibly up to no good. Instead, unfortunately they shot a pregnant female carrying a fully developed baby.

This marine animal is considered as one of the rarest and most endangered marine species, and sighting them on the Syrian coast is very rare. It almost never happens for a scientist or researcher to watch them alive, swimming in the sea for real.

Mediterranean Monk Seal (Monachus monachus) live between 20 and 30 years. The length of the average adult male 2.4 meters, and weighs about 315 kilograms. The female is slightly smaller, as it weighs 300 kilograms.

The numbers of monk seals currently estimated between 400 and 500, distributed among Mediterranean and West African countries. About  200 to 250 of them live in the waters of Greece and Turkey. 

As a result of the population decline, it has been listed in "Appendix I" of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, CITES and it has been also listed in the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as critically endangered.

--AA

To learn more about IFAW's efforts to protect seals around the world, visit our campaign page.

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