Will the Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus Hermann, 1779) in the Northeastern Mediterranean become extinct in the future?

The northeastern Mediterranean coast of Turkey is one of the last remaining refuges where the critically endangered Mediterranean monk seal still survives and reproduces. The monk seal colony in this area has been closely monitored since 1994. In this study, the vital parameters of the monk seal colony, obtained since 1994, were evaluated using population viability analysis to estimate the risk of further decline of this species in the northeastern Mediterranean, and their expected chances of recovery. The three main questions to be answered were: i) what are the positive and negative implications of conservation measures applied in the area on the colony’s demography? ii) What are the potential risks awaiting the colony in the future? iii) Is there a need to change or revise the existing conservation strategy? To answer these questions, demographic changes in the colony were evaluated by comparing the effect of Marine Protected Area established in 1999 as pre-conservation and post-conservation phases. Results indicated that existing conservation strategies certainly have a positive effect on the colony’s demography. However, a considerable risk for the future of the colony remains. The fish stocks, which constitute the food resource of seals, were depleted as a consequence of heavy fishing pressure. It is known that limited food resource is direcly related to mortality rate observed during the early life stages of the seals. As a result of limited food resources, the seals are attracted to fish trapped in nets thereby increasing the risk of entanglement in a fishing net. The analysis results showed that high mortality rates in the early life stages creates high risk for the presence and future survival of the colony. Therefore, efforts to reduce such early mortality must be the major priority of all conservation strategies aimed towards the monk seal population.
Citation Formats
M. Ok and A. C. Gücü, “Will the Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus Hermann, 1779) in the Northeastern Mediterranean become extinct in the future?,” 2008, Accessed: 00, 2021. [Online]. Available: https://hdl.handle.net/11511/88714.