Our Neighborhood's Biodiversity Map

* Please click the continent to see the endangered species of our neighborhood.
Europe
Arkive species - Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus) * To See the original image, please click the image
Shared by : Konstantinos- Eirinaios Tsiampouris (Greece)
Region : Greece
Status : Critically Endangered
Introduction
While swimming near the island Alonissos in the Aegean Sea, it is possible that you will find yourself swimming side by side with a seal. The Mediterranean seal "Monachus monachus" is one of the 35 seal species that exist around the world, and is the animal with the largest possibility of extinction in the whole Europe!! This seal used to live in all coasts of Mediterranean and Black Sea as well as in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. Today, it is consisted by less than 600 animals. About half the population lives in Greece and specifically on the island of Alonissos in the Aegean Sea.

This species of seal has short shiny hair, colored brown or black. Its length is around 2.5m and it weights about 300kg.
The name of "Monachus monachus"(monk) comes from the folds that its skin creates around its neck which resemble the folds of the hood that monks usually wear.

The conservation status, according to IUCN "Red List of Threatened Species", of Monachus monachus is Critically Endangered (CR) - Extremely high risk of extinction in the wild.

Not only by the sea contamination, the trapping of the seals to fishing tools, but also their intentional extermination by fishermen (they rip the fishing nets as they try to escape) are great dangers to the survival of this species.

The Mediterranean seal Monachus monachus is known to Greek people from ancient ages. It is sometimes represented in Ancient Greek coins and is referred in Homer's Odyssey which describes the seals lying on the beach. Aristoteles studied and described the seal in great detail, in one of his books. This creature also gave its name to the ancient city of "Phokea". Finally, in Aegean Sea, people used to make clothes by their leather.





The ecological organization "ΜOm /Hellenic Society for the study and protection of the Monk Seal" (http://www.mom.gr/homepage.asp?ITMID=101&LANG=EN) has greatly contributed to the characterization of this area as "Protected National Sea Park"



Sources :
http://www.mom.gr/displayITM1.asp?ITMID=29&LANG=GR
http://www.wwf.gr/el/endangered-species
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monachus_monachus

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