Headlines – News – Articles
12th April, 2010

Mediterranean seal Badem chooses to avoid tourist season

Press Watch, Hürriyet Daily News, April 12, 2010

Badem, probably the most famous Mediterranean Monk Seal, is back in Turkey after taking herself on a tour of the Greek island of Rhodes during the winter months. […]

The problem is that Badem is far too happy to be with humans and likes nothing better than to take a break by jumping into a dinghy for forty winks.

This all sounds very delightful, and sure enough, last month she was found in a dinghy near Marmaris, recuperating from her long swim from Rhodes back to Turkey where she likes to spend the summer months.

According to Zafer Kızılkaya, a representative of SAD/AFAG, “she was resting in a dinghy, but it seems some people took advantage of this, and we received reports that some people were kicking her and throwing stones at her. Unfortunately the attitude of many Turkish people is that, when they see an animal like Badem, they want to play with her, but really it’s more like torture. This is quite intolerable.”

“This sort of abuse is unacceptable, but is hard to stop. A decision had already been made to take her to a secure, protected place once the season started, and this was planned for the end of May. While it is better for her to be free, it is imperative that she and her kind are safeguarded from danger and ignorant actions of people who don’t know any better.” […]

[Cem Orkun] Kıraç and his colleagues are in the process of creating a center where Badem and other vulnerable marine mammals like her can be protected and if necessary rehabilitated. They now have a sturdy 50 meters diameter pen constructed in a remote bay and plan to use it to protect and if possible rehabilitate marine mammals.

The next important decision they will have to take is when and if Badem becomes pregnant. As an air-breathing mammal, she will give birth on land. Female monk seals deliver their pups in caves, and it is important that Badem’s offspring do not become conditioned to humans in the same way that she has.

There are few options open to SAD/AFAG, all of which are full of risks, but Kızılkaya is certain they will find a solution to meet Badem’s needs. He is concerned, nevertheless, that on the coast of Turkey there is not one place remaining where any marine mammal can be left free and in peace. […]

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