Statement on the deliberate killing of the Mediterranean Monk Seal Monachus monachus (Hermann, 1779) on the Samos Island, Greece

According to ‘www.samostimes.gr’ on May 24, 2017, a female adult monk seal was found dead in the southwest coast of Samos Island, Greece, on May 21, 2017. Evidences of deliberate killing were found by the researchers of the Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation.

Since Mediterranean monk seals are sedentary animals, the individuals can be recognized by the local people. The inhabitants of Samos also nicknamed the monk seal living in their region as “Argiro”. The researchers reported the possibility of the dead individual unfortunately was “Argiro” and stated that in any case, be it a famous or an unknown seal, the murder is equally despicable.

Deliberate killing is one of the main reasons for the decline of the monk seal population. It was reported that a half of the mortalities observed during 1986˗1996 were due to deliberate killing in Turkey. One of the most recent victims was reported in 2013, a seal called “Duman” (which means “Smoke” in Turkish) by local people in Antalya. His assailant has not yet been apprehended. Since Turkey and Greece inhabit the biggest population in the Mediterranean Sea, their responsibilities are huge for the survival of the Mediterranean monk seals and their cooperation is essential. Once again, we assert that guns have no place in fishing boats and demand all guns, firearms and shotguns alike be banned immediately!

These cases show that the state authorities, universities and NGOs should make stronger conservation action plans with common efforts. These plans must include precautions against deliberate killings, rescue plans for stranding animals and awareness raising programs for local people, to be implemented fully throughout all Turkish and Greek coastal areas.

About the Mediterranean monk seal, Monachus monachus (Hermann, 1779)
The Mediterranean monk seal, Monachus monachus (Hermann, 1779), is Europe’s most endangered marine mammal and it is protected by the Barcelona Convention (Fourth protocol species), Bern Convention (Appendix II), Biodiversity Convention (Eligible species), Bonn Convention (Appendix I and II) as well as CITES (Appendix I). M. monachus is also listed in Red List of IUCN as endangered status (IUCN 2016). It is estimated that 350-400 individuals live in the coasts of Turkey and Greece. Fishery interaction is a very common cause for adult monk seals mortality. Fishermen and fish farmers use lights, feeding with pesticide˗injected fish, noise generation, warning and direct shots with rifles and physical exclusion to keep seals away from the cages and nets.

Please report your observations…
Mitigating negative interactions between fishermen and seals and habitat protection are the main conservation priorities for the monk seals. Furthermore, scientific research and monitoring programs together with the public awareness campaigns are vital for the protection of the population.
If you see an individual of the Mediterranean Monk Seal, please send a message (preferably with a photo) to tudav@tudav.org or call TUDAV and help the protection of this iconic animal of the Mediterranean Sea.
Tel: 0216 4240772