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Monk seal population increases in Cyprus for 2023

monk seal web
Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus) (Haris Nicolaou)

There is an increase in the population of the Mediterranean monk seal in Cyprus and 2023 figures show that there are 20-22 mammals on the island, Agriculture Minister Maria Panayiotou said, addressing a conference in Peyia, titled “Mediterranean Seal. An emblematic species of the Mediterranean – Past, Present and Future.”

The event was organised by the Peyia municipality on Saturday, in collaboration with the agriculture ministry and the support of the fisheries department and MOm NGO based in Greece.

She pledged that the ministry supports all efforts aimed at informing the public and raising awareness.

Panayiotou added that the Mediterranean seal is considered the number one endangered marine mammal in Europe. Its population in the Mediterranean is around 700, of which half live in the maritime area of Greece, while in Cyprus it is estimated that there are currently around 20-22 mammals.

She noted that the population increased due to species monitoring programs and record of observations.

One important finding, she said, was the verification of reproductive activity of the Mediterranean seal on the island, with the first discovery of a newborn seal in one of the island’s sea caves, in November 2011.

The minister said that unfortunately the Mediterranean seal in Cyprus is faced with various threats for its survival because of the loss and degradation of its habitats, the urbanization of the neighbouring areas, overfishing and tourism pressures through various activities.

She praised the work done by scientists in Greece and the role of local communities.

Scientists presented the latest scientific developments and figures in relation to the marine mammal protection program.

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