Two orphaned Mediterranean monk seal pups, under rehab in the Turkish Aegean town of Foça for the last three and a half months, will be released on 2 April, NGO SAD-AFAG has announced [Monk seal pups to be released].
The pups were both discovered on the 18 December 2010 but in separate locations: in the Bozyazı region, Mersin, and the Kas region, Antalya [see Two orphaned pups enter rehab in Foça].
Although breaking new ground in feeding techniques (the pups initially being fed fish porridge out of bowls, rather than being force-fed by tube), the programme later suffered disruption when disagreement arose between the appointed veterinarian, Avni Gök of Izmir Greater Municipality, and SAD-AFAG.
Although SAD-AFAG provides little detail on the source of the dispute, it states in its press release that its personnel were locked out of the rehabilitation unit between 19 February and 18 March —when the Ministry of Environment finally restored SAD-AFAG control. This created a one month “blind period”, says SAD-AFAG, where little information on the pups’ condition or progress was available.
Following various veterinary tests and assessment of the pups’ behavioural progress, SAD-AFAG judged the pair ready for release.
On 1 April, the pups weighed in at 34 and 37 kg respectively, 128 and 135 cm in length.
Release will take place along the remote coasts between Gazipaşa (Antalya) and Anamur (Mersin), says SAD-AFAG, one of twelve “Important Monk Seal Sites” recognised by the government of Turkey in need of protection.