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Mediterranean monk seal

The Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus) is sadly considered the rarest seal species in the world, with less than 700 individuals surviving in isolated areas of the Mediterranean (mainly Greece and Turkey), the archipelago of Madeira and the beaches of Cabo Blanco (Mauritania).

The genus Monachus is the only genus of seals that inhabits tropical/temperate waters, thus having very short fur. While these animals used to occupy large, open, sandy beaches along the Mediterranean sea and the Northeastern Atlantic Ocean, now they tipically hide in inaccessible caves, where it is more difficult to be disturbed by humans. These caves, however, are dangerous for newborns, and are causes of major mortality among pups when storms hit the area.

Current threats to monk seals are entanglement in fishing gear,  direct killing by fishermen (who still consider them as pest due to the damage they cause to their nets) and coastal urbanization and pollution.

Catch a glimpse

Mediterranean monk seal