5 May 2013




Detailed Report on the Death of the Mediterranean Monk Seal

An adult male Mediterranean Monk Seal (Monachus monachus) individual (238 cm long) was found dead in Alanya district in Antalya on April 30, 2013. A necropsy was done in order to understand the cause of death and samples (pathology, genetics, chemical deposition, stomach contents, etc.) were collected for scientific research on 2nd of May, 2013. Then the carcass was buried with the coordination of Antalya Metropolitan Municipality staff, Marine Biologist Dr. Elif Ozgur Ozbek, for the purpose of its skeleton to be exhibited in the museum which will be established in the future.

A preliminary report of the necropsy, done by Marine Mammal Specialist and Veterinary Surgeon Erdem Danyer from the Turkish Marine Research Foundation (TUDAV) and some veterinary surgeons from Ministry, was posted on our website on May 3, 2013. Our work has continued on the data and samples, and detailed reports were prepared.

Some traumas, which can be caused by first step gunshot trauma and followed by blunt force, were discovered in the head and the body of the seal. Based on the findings in the abdomen and thorax, it’s believed that the seal died because of hypovolemic shock as a result of internal bleeding. As a result, the seal died not in a natural way, but due to human influence. Intentional or accidental killing of Mediterranean Monk Seal, one of the twenty animals under the threat of extinction in the World, is unacceptable.

As TUDAV; we demand an investigation in order to find perpetrators in a rigorous manner from Antalya Governorship and other competent institutions. Also, we recommend Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs to hold an urgent meeting and take effective measures for the conservation of these endangered animals.

Since 1993, our team conducts scientific studies on marine mammals (dolphins, whales and Mediterranean Monk Seal). Our studies are mostly focused on the fishermen interaction, stranding, population distribution and size, migration path in Istanbul Strait, photo-id, genetic structure, skull collection, stomach content, conservation strategies, etc.

Please, inform Coast Guard (158), maritime police, (153), I.U. Faculty of Fisheries or TUDAV on the cetacean observations you did. Do not touch dead animals without protective gloves against the risk of any disease. All your notifications are very important for our scientific studies. We look forward to you joining us on this subject and supporting our efforts to protect our seas.

Turkish Marine Research Foundation (TUDAV)

Additional information:
Mediterranean Monk Seals are one of the most endangered species and currently can be observed in Madeira Island and the Mediterranean, mostly in Turkey and Greece. They prefer rocky shores and islands as well as isolated caves. They come on land for sleeping and resting. They hunt in the coastal region up to 0-30 m depth. Their deepest dive is 75 m. At birth, they are 80-120 cm and weigh 15-26 kg. Adults can reach 2,8-3,1 m in length and weigh 250-400 kg. They can form groups of 5-6 individuals or form colonies on wide beaches. Currently, this species is observed to be solitary animals. They feed on various types of fish, crustacean and cephalopods. It is estimated that there are only 100-50 individuals left on the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts of Turkey. It has not been observed in the Black Sea or the Marmara Sea in recent years. The major factor in the reduction of monk seal populations in Turkey and the Eastern Mediterranean is the animals being killed by humans on purpose.

Photos: E.Ö.Özbek/TUDAV