Our Daily Trips

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Monk Seal protection

Monk Seal protection

Around Madeira, we sometimes see the rare Monk Seals. Mediterranean monk seals are amongst the most endangered marine mammals. Scientists estimate that there are only around 500-700 individuals left, living in three to four subpopulations in the Mediterranean, Madeira and the northeastern Atlantic Ocean. The main reasons for their decline is commercial hunting during the Roman Empire and Middle Ages, eradication by fishermen (the seals caused damage to fishing nets), oceanic pollution, and because their original beach habitat has been invaded and destroyed. Many monk seals have switched their living space to caves with underwater entries, which cannot be easily accessed by humans.

My colleague Daniel spotted a Monk Seal off the eastern part of Madeira, while working together with Madeira Wind Birds. A rare sighting! There is a small colony of about 30 individuals around Desertas Islands south of Madeira. These animals are constantly monitored and its habitat protected, to make efforts to preserve the monk seals.

A recent scientific article (1) describes how conservation efforts in Greece have led to small population increases of the Monk Seal. These conservation efforts were local, made by a civil society. It shows that we don’t have to sit around and wait for others to save the beautiful species we have left on this earth. When people who truly care come together, a small group can make a big difference. This is how it has always been in history, and will continue to be this way. Time to make a difference for our planet!

(1) http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0065288116300153

by Judith Kok

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