Turkey uses unique methods to protect endangered Mediterranean monk seals

Turkey uses unique methods to protect endangered Mediterranean monk seals


In a bid to protect the population of Mediterranean monk seals, a critically endangered animal added to the World Conservation Union (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, scientists have constructed a natural platform in the caves which monk seals inhabit in Turkey’s southern province of Muğla.

The monk seals need especially untouched coasts and coastal caves with air and platforms for breeding. The animals use the coastal caves in the Aegean, Marmara and Mediterranean seas for breeding.

Muğla Province Environment and Urbanization Head Ömür Özdil said they constructed special platforms in the animals’ habitats to make sure the seals have enough dry space in caves for breeding.

“Following our work, it was determined that a female Mediterranean monk seal used the cave. We observed it with infrared cameras. This is the first time in history when this kind of method was used to protect the Mediterranean seals,” he said.

Özdil noted that they only used natural materials to not harm animals and nature.

Turkey is among the four countries where these monk seals live.

As the only type of seal whose natural habitat is warm seas, the Mediterranean monk seal is an endangered species.

Some 100 Mediterranean monk seals are believed to have remained along Turkey's coastline, with most of them living in caves near the western resort town of Foça (Phocaea in antiquity), whose name was derived from the Greek and Latin term for seals (Phocoidea – Phocidae).

The Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus) is one of the world’s most endangered marine mammals. It is the sole member of the genus Monachus, and is one of two surviving species of monk seals along with the Hawaiian monk seal. The species is described as ”critically endangered” by the IUCN and is listed on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Because of their trusting nature, they were easy prey for hunters and fishermen using clubs, spears and nets.