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Photo credit: Imad Saidi

New hope for rare monk seals

Photo credit: Imad Saidi

Mediterranean monk seal was seen near sporting club – Beirut on 12 April 2014. The Mediterranean monk seal has been considered extinct in Lebanon for many years, and it is likely that this particular individual originates from elsewhere.

On 2010, Simon Nadim, Managing Director of the Pure Tech Diving Facility in Batroun, Lebanon, reported two separate sightings of a Mediterranean monk seal, on the 15.08.2010 and 04.09.2010 respectively.

The encounters both occurred whilst diving amongst caves in northern Lebanon and were recorded on video. The animal is reported to be at least 2m in length, and is evidently in good condition.

Given the extreme rarity of the species, and its sensitivity to human disturbance, the exact location of the sightings is being kept confidential.

Mediterranean Monk Seals فقمة الراهب المتوسطية

Distribution: This critically endangered species occurs in the Mediterranean Sea.

Habitat: Marine, use sandy and rocky shores. They are normally confined to remote and undisturbed areas.

Description: Body length ofadult may reach 2.4 metres and weigh up to 320 kg. The fur is black in the case of male or brown to dark grey for female with a paler belly which is close to white in males.

Breeding: Maturity is reached at around age of four. Pregnant Monk Seal normally use inaccessible undersea caves while giving birth. Pups are mostly born in autumn. This seal may live for more than 20 years.

Behaviour: They are diurnal animals and form colonies in remote areas.

Food: Fish and cephalopods primarily octopus.

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