Species: Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus)
Status: Critically Endangered (CR)
Interesting Fact: The Mediterranean monk seal appeared on one of the first ever coins, around 500 BC!
The Mediterranean monk seal is so named because its brown or greyish coat is said to resemble a monk’s robes. This shy creature is active during the day and forages mainly in shallow coastal waters, where it feeds on a variety of fish, squid and octopus. It takes up to six years to reach sexual maturity, after which, the Mediterranean monk seal will mate underwater before giving birth on secluded cave beaches. Newborn Mediterranean monk seal pups have a black, woolly coat, with a white or yellow patch on the belly.
Mediterranean monk seals are highly sensitive to disturbance and humans have extensively used both the sea and beaches of their habitat for centuries, causing the population to collapse. They are now thought to be the world’s most endangered marine mammal, and there are various national laws and conservation measures in place across its range in order to save this unique species from Extinction
Read more on the Mediterranean monk seal on the EDGE website.
Explore other Mediterranean species on our new Mediterranean Basin eco-region pages.
Becky Moran, ARKive Species Text Author