BritsinCrete.gr asks you to help support the efforts to save from extinction the shy Mediterranean Monk Seal which is found in Greece's coastal waters. Monk seals (L: genus Monachus) have been living on Earth for 15 million years. Today in the European Union, however, the most ancient of Monk Seal species the Mediterranean Monk Seal - L: Monachus monachus is on the most critically endangered animal list. Its total remaining population is less than 600 individuals, of which 250-300 is thought to be in the coastal waters of Greece. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature - WWF Greece there are some 35 species of seal living in the world today. Only three species of the genus Monachus live in warm water. One, the Caribbean monk seal, became extinct in the 1950’s.
Looking back over millennia, references to the Mediterranean monk seal appear in ancient Greek texts attesting to the attention mankind has given to this mammal. In 8th Century BC Greek mythology, Homer mentions the species in the 4th book of the Odyssey. In the book Menelaus tells Telemachus, the son of Odysseus and Penelope of his meeting with Proteus, the sea god who protected the sea’s animals, including seals. Later, historian Herodotus (500BC), scientist, Aristotle (circa 300BC), and philospher, Plutarch (circa 100BC) also mentioned the monk seal in their recorded observations and writings.
Greek waters are today home to the largest concentrations of the Mediterranean seal population. Most live around the islands of the Northern Sporades, the Ionian Sea, the Cyclades, and the Dodecanese.
The Mediterranean monk seal can grow up to three metres long. The bulls are noticeably larger than the females. This streamlined aquatic mammal with flippers is intelligent and graceful but is particularly sensitive to any disturbance. While seals dive for fish, octopus and squid they come ashore to rest and breed. The seals reproduce their offspring in natural caves along Greece's shoreline. A cow monk seal gives birth to just one pup usually every one or two years. A pup is also referred to as a whelp or calf.
Many factors are driving the Mediterranean Monk Seal into extinction: