Turkish NGO SAD-AFAG has confirmed that the release of two Mediterranean monk seal pups took place on 2 April 2011 along the remote coasts between Gazipaşa (Antalya) and Anamur (Mersin), one of twelve “Important Monk Seal Sites” recognised by the government of Turkey in need of protection.
The orphaned pups had been in rehab in Foça since they were rescued in separate locations on the Mediterranean coast on the 18 December 2010.
The release, reports SAD-AFAG, took place in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment and Forests, and the Coast Guard, the latter providing the vessel to transport the pups from the port of Bozyazi to the release site. The pups were then carried by inflatable to a remote beach for release.
SAD-AFAG reports that the pair disappeared into coastal waters some 5 minutes after release. Despite ongoing monitoring by the organisation, the Coast Guard, and the Mersin District Directorate of the Ministry of Environment, no subsequent sightings were recorded as of 13 April.
The coast, notes SAD-AFAG, has a relatively low human population density and fishing pressure.
The pups weighed in at 34 and 37 kg respectively immediately prior to their release, raising eyebrows in certain quarters: monk seal rehabilitation practice has generally aimed at around at 50 kg release weights. In their accompanying press release, however, SAD-AFAG stressed that the pups’ readiness for release had been confirmed by veterinary assessment, and evaluation of their feeding and general behaviour.