Development is rampant all along the Mediterranean, whether in Egypt, Israel, or Lebanon, where scuba divers find no life. But building projects in Turkey put additional stress on Mediterranean Monk Seals (Monachus monachus) already listed by the International Union For the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as being critically endangered.
Two pups that survived a heavy storm, during which they were separated from their mother, were discovered and relocated to a rehabilitation center in Foca, along the North Aegean coast.
The two pups separated from their mother would badly dehydrated when discovered. After 48 hours of crashing into rocks, their bellies, jaws and flippers were also badly injured. They were finally discovered in Bozyazı and Kaş and have since been nurtured back to good, sound health.
They are two of only 100 seals left in Turkey.
Previously, Turkish fishermen were blamed for dwindling seal populations, but according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), fishermen in the outer Gulf of Izmir and the Cilician Basin now protect monk seals. This has in turn led to improved fish stock and a stronger source of livelihood.
Elsewhere in Turkey, development and tourism pose the biggest threat to the peace and relative isolation that Monk seals require in order to breed and rear their young. Almost every inch of the coast is now accessible to human encroachment, which increasingly shrinks the seals’ habitat.
The Underwater Research Society claims that the only way to save the seals is to save the Mediterranean.
Between Marmaris and Datca, Treehugger reports that the tourism sector has petitioned for 200 bays previously closed to development to now open up. Critics worry that this is be shortsighted move – without significant financial gain – that would both destroy the region’ aesthetics, and further endanger the almost extinct seal.
IUCN estimates that there are fewer than 250 mature Mediterranean Monk seals left in the world.
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