The Mediterranean monk seal Monachus monachus: status, biology, threats, and conservation priorities

Karamanlidis, Alexandros A.
Dendrinos, Panagiotis
De Larrinoa, Pablo Fernandez
Gücü, Ali Cemal
Johnson, William M.
Kirac, Cem O.
Pires, Rosa
The Mediterranean monk seal Monachus monachus is the most endangered seal species. In this review we summarize the status, ecology, and behaviour of the Mediterranean monk seal, and identify the main threats that currently affect the species and the conservation priorities for securing its survival. Once abundant throughout the Black Sea and Mediterranean, as well as off the Atlantic coasts of northwestern Africa and Macaronesia, the Mediterranean monk seal has recently suffered dramatic declines, both in abundance and geographical range. It is now estimated that fewer than 700 individuals survive in three or four isolated subpopulations in the eastern and western Mediterranean, the archipelago of Madeira and the Cabo Blanco area in the northeastern Atlantic Ocean. Mediterranean monk seals are coastal marine mammals. When resting and pupping on land, individuals generally seek refuge in inaccessible marine caves; this behaviour is, in part, believed to be an adaptation to increased disturbance by humans. Larger aggregations or colonies of the species can now be found only at Cabo Blanco in the Atlantic Ocean and on the island of Gyaros in the eastern Mediterranean. The main threats to the survival of the Mediterranean monk seal are habitat deterioration; deliberate killing, mainly by fishermen; and accidental entanglement and drowning in fishing gear. Limited availability of food sources and stochastic and unusual events have occasionally also contributed to Mediterranean monk seal mortality. Based on a common consensus among scientists and conservationists, the main conservation priorities for the monk seal are: habitat protection; mitigating negative interactions between seals and fisheries; scientific research and monitoring of local seal populations; education and public awareness campaigns; and rescue and rehabilitation of wounded, sick, and orphaned seals.


Diet of a Mediterranean monk seal Monachus monachus in a transitional post-weaning phase and its implications for the conservation of the species
Kirac, Cem Orkun; Ok, Meltem (2019-01-01)
The Mediterranean monk seal Monachus monachus is the most endangered pin-niped in the world and is considered Endangered by the IUCN. Transition from suckling to active feeding is a critical time in the development of all mammal species, and understanding the dietary requirements of seals during this vulnerable period is of value in establishing conservation measures, such as fishery regulations. This study provides unique information on the dietary habits of a moulted monk seal pup, through the opportunist...
New monitoring confirms regular breeding of the Mediterranean monk seal in Northern Cyprus
Beton, Damla; Broderick, Annette C.; Godley, Brendan J.; Kolac, Emre; Ok, Meltem; Snape, Robin T. E. (2021-07-01)
The Endangered Mediterranean monk seal Monachus monachus is one of the most threatened marine mammals. Across Cyprus, suitable habitat and presence of monk seals is well documented and, recently, camera-trap surveys in Southern Cyprus found there to be pupping. We present results of the first camera-trap surveys in Northern Cyprus spanning the pupping period. Four adult/subadults and three pups were identified in three of eight caves monitored with camera traps. One site on the north-west of the island supp...
Habitat use and preliminary demographic evaluation of the critically endangered Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus) in the Cilician Basin (Eastern Mediterranean)
Gücü, Ali Cemal; Orek, H (2004-04-01)
Over the last few decades a dramatic decline in the number of Mediterranean monk seals (Monachus monachus) limited scientific studies on the biology.. behaviour, and ecology of the species. This lack of information impaired the effectiveness of conservation strategies. Thus, any further information gathered on the monk seal has utmost value in the work to halt and reverse the plight of the species. A hitherto unknown Cilician Basin colony of the Mediterranean monk seal has been investigated during a 6-year ...
Human impacts on ecological heritage - Mediterranean monk seal in the Cilician Basin
Yediler, A; Gücü, Ali Cemal (1997-01-01)
As a direct consequence of the human impacts on the Mediterranean, inhabiting populations of certain species, like Mediterranean Monk Seal Monachus monachus (Hermann, 1779), have suffered from a dramatic decline. The Cilician Basin is one of the last regions of the Mediterranean, where a small monk seal population still regularly reproductive, is present. In this study, ill possible factors which may adversely affect the population, have been evaluated and immediate protection measures specifically adressed...
An Alternative Photo-Identification Technique For The Mediterranean Monk Seals In The Northeastern Mediterranean
Ok, Meltem; Gücü, Ali Cemal (2009-03-02)
The Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus, Hermann 1779) has been listed as one of the most endangered mammals in the world. Due to its rarity, vulnerability and critical status, use of photo-identification is one of the widely used approaches to obtain essential data on these animals such as their population structure, migration behavior and critical habitats. In this study, 3D model construction from photographs was tested as an alternative photo-identification method for the monk seals since it does...
Citation Formats
A. A. Karamanlidis et al., “The Mediterranean monk seal Monachus monachus: status, biology, threats, and conservation priorities,” MAMMAL REVIEW, pp. 92–105, 2016, Accessed: 00, 2020. [Online]. Available: