Iberianature Forum

Spanish mammals (lynx, bear, wolves, cabras, moufflon and the little furry creatures too). => Mammals of Iberia => Topic started by: nick on June 17, 2008, 14:01 PM

Title: Monk seals
Post by: nick on June 17, 2008, 14:01 PM
Right I thought we could start off a new thread on the monk seal, often considered Spanish even though it's extinct, with this piece of news

Remarkable news. A diver from Palma claims to have seen (and taken photo above) a monk seal (foca monje - Monachus monachus) in the marine reserve of Isla del Toro. The monk seal is considered to be extinct is the Balearic Islands (where is was known popularly as the vellmarí - old man of the sea) since the late 1950s, and is among the ten most endangered mammals in the world, with colonies divided between Mauritania and the Eastern Mediterranean, the former being far the stronger. If true, I imagine we are talking about an animal in dispersion or just plain lost. The Balearic government periodically considers the possibility of attempting to reintroduce the animal. Whether it would fare well in an area of sea so popular with pleasure craft is another question. See more in El País

There is also a half plan to reintroduce the animal along the Costa Brava (La foca monje volverá a Cadaqués - El País)

A small group of monk seals survived in Cabo de Gata, Almeria until the 1960s.
Title: Re: Monk seals
Post by: nick on June 17, 2008, 18:29 PM
This link gives a much better review of the story than El Pais


Title: Re: Monk seals
Post by: steveT on June 18, 2008, 20:38 PM

 I've been wondering about monk seals recently and if there were any reintroduction plans ...... it would be great to have this beautiful and  large  seal back in Spanish waters.

You may know the larger Mauritanian group were very badly hit by a virus about 2 years ago ..... I think around 100 out of roughly 250 were wiped out. I think the global pop. is around 300. An other discreet group in Spanish waters would also be away to help safe guard this species......especially as seals seem to be vunerable to a number of viruses.

Title: Re: Monk seals
Post by: nick on June 18, 2008, 21:54 PM
Yes, I have no idea of current population. Keep reading different figures.

They seem to be recovering from virus:

http://www.monachus-guardian.org/mguard21/2116mednew.htm#MauritaniaWesternSahara (very interesting site by the way)

As reported previously in The Monachus Guardian [Notable increase of newborn pups at Cabo Blanco, TMG November 2006], an average 26.5 pups per year were born during the period 2000-2005 at the Cabo Blanco colony. In 2006, pup production increased significantly to 48 pups, and this 2007 breeding season, productivity has remained at this high level, with 46 pups being detected in the breeding caves colony. This notable increase in pup production is due to the incorporation of new females into the reproductive section of the population.
Together with the increase in pup production, the pup mortality rate has also remained lower than in previous years, with 74% of the pups born having survived to the first moult. This is due to the widening of the breeding season to the summer months, causing many pups to be born during months with good weather conditions.

Both facts, a higher number of pups being born, and a higher number of pups that survive to the first moult, undoubtedly contribute to a higher recovery of the Cabo Blanco population.
Title: Re: Monk seals
Post by: nick on June 23, 2008, 12:35 PM
This is how the Monachus Guardian reported this incident. Nice to see them linking to us too,

It was an exceptional event by any standards, yet even more so when one realises that the Mediterranean monk seal has been considered extinct in Spain and the Balearic Islands for more than half a century.

In what may turn out to be a pivotal moment in the species' future recolonisation of the Balearics, a confirmed sighting of a single Mediterranean monk seal was made in the marine reserve of Isla del Toro, Mallorca, at 11.30 hrs on 15 June.....