Rarest seal breeding site discovered

Rarest seal breeding site discovered

IMAGE: Image of a 2017 camera trap of a baby monk seal. view more

Credit: SPOT / Monk Seal Project

Scientists have discovered a previously unknown breeding site used by the rarest seal species in the world.

The Mediterranean monk seal is classified as “endangered”, with a total population of around 700.

The new study – conducted by the University of Exeter and the Society for the Protection of Turtles (SPOT) – used camera traps to confirm breeding in caves in northern Cyprus, with at least three puppies born from 2016 to 19 in a cave.

Only certain caves are suitable for breeding and resting monk seals, so – although numbers are small – researchers say urgent action is needed to protect these caves.

“This coastal area is developing rapidly, especially for hotel construction,” said Dr Robin Snape, of the Center for Ecology and Conservation at the Penryn Campus of Exeter in Cornwall.

“A survey of the coast in 2007 found 39 possible breeding caves, and some of them have already been destroyed.

“The main breeding site we identify in this study currently has no protected status, and we are working with local authorities to try to change…

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