Mediterranean Monk Seal Facts
- The status of the Mediterranean Monk Seal ranks as the most important fact about the species. According to marine biologists, fewer than 700 individuals of this ocean species remain alive today. We must act to preserve it.
- The IUCN currently lists it as Endangered. This occurs due to its scant numbers and extremely limited distribution. That actually represents a small improvement in the status, since the previous listing as Critically Endangered.
- This status change reflects a rather slight increase in its numbers. The action also remains in keeping with the speed-of-decline criteria employed by the IUCN. However, the organization also intends to reassess its status in 2020.
- Preservation efforts have been instituted by the various governments in whose waters it makes its home. Yet these remain hampered by various factors such as high infant mortality rates and being caught in fishing nets.
Mediterranean Monk Seal Physical Description
The Mediterranean Monk Seal ranks as rather average, in terms of sheer size. Sexual dimorphism does exist in the species, yet only to a small degree. Males attain an average weight of about 710 lb (320 kg). Yet females average approximately 660 lb (300 kg).
The genders remain equal in length, however. Adults of both sexes reach an average length of 7.9 ft (2.4 m). These also display a gender-based difference in regards to coloring. Males typically display a primarily black color. Females, however, usually remain dark gray or brown.
Both genders display a pale underside, with this being typically gray for females and white for males. The fur ranks as the shortest of any known pinniped, regardless of gender. The snout grows broad and flat, while the flippers grow relatively short.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Mammalia
- Order: Carnivora
- Suborder: Pinnipedia
- Family: Phocidae
- Genus: Monachus
- Species: M. monachus
Mediterranean Monk Seal Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
Most notably, the lovable Mediterranean Monk Seal has an extremely limited and fragmented distribution. Its only confirmed populations consist of three small colonies.
Scientists suspect a fourth, yet it has not been confirmed.
The known populations exist in the Aegean Sea, near Greece, one near Turkey, and one near Cabo Blanco, close to Africa. The population near Greece, which also ranks as the largest, now calls the Alonissos Marine Park home.
This diurnal species feeds primarily on a variety of fish and mollusks, especially squid and octopuses. It generally feeds near the surface but has been seen as deep as 500 ft (152.4 m). Marine biologists know very little about its reproductive practices.
There appears to be no set breeding season, yet the majority of births occur in October and November. When not in the water, individuals prefer to inhabit sea caves and occasionally appear on local beaches.