Finding a baby seal in Greece – the endangered Mediterranean monk seal

The endangered Mediterranean monk seal

When you think of seals, where do your thoughts go to? To the Californian coast where the wild sea lions live on the docks? Perhaps you picture the seals playing with a ball in a seal sanctuary, but have you ever heard of the Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus)? You might not have at all, as this kind of seal is endangered and not many of them are left.

Angry fishermen

About 450 mature individual Mediterranean monk seals are living in the Mediterranean. There used to be many more. Angry fishermen believing the seals took their fish and commercial seal hunting made the seals disappear. Nowadays, they are protected. The Regional Marine Park of North Karpathos and Saria monitors the Mediterranean monk seal while taking pictures, videos and DNA samples.

This beautiful creature deserves to be protected. Two weeks ago I had a special chance to see theΒ Mediterranean monk seal in the wild. I joined the Regional Marine Park of North Karpathos and Saria to monitor the behavior and new pups of the Mediterranean monk seal.

Monachus monachus

The Mediterranean monk seal lives in marine caves where you can find a little beach inside. They rest and have their pups there. The adult seals are 2.3 to 2.8 meters in length and can weigh up to 300 kg! The pups usually are a bit longer than 1 meter in length weighing about 16kg. They look like cute teddy bears, but they will always be beautiful wild seals if we help them preserve their habitat.

The population is slowly increasing, but to stay up-to-date you should have a look here at the IUCN Red list.


After encountering the baby seal – lucky me!

karpathos frog-photo renate rigters

The Karpathos Frog, endemic to Karpathos – protected by the Regional Marine Park of North Karpathos and Saria.

Eleonora's falcon-photo renate rigters

Eleonora’s falcon, also protected by the Regional Marine Park of North Karpathos and Saria.

All the credit for taking care of these beautiful animals and monitoring them properly goes to Dino, George and their colleagues from the Regional Marine Park of North Karpathos and Saria. Thanks to my colleague Simon from Karpathos Diving Center for the video images and photos of the seal.

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Ever since I left my home country I felt at home at any other place I went to. I enjoy getting to know more cultures by talking to strangers and hearing their philosophy about life. Speaking with gestures when you can not find a shared language, finding places only the locals go to and learn about their customs and values. Hanging out with local people makes me happy. The experience of every new place is a step out of your comfort zone where I like to wander around until it feels like a second home.

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