Headlines – News – Articles
25th June, 2014

First monk seal images from the maternity cave of the Desertas Islands

by Rosa Pires, Parque Natural da Madeira Service

For the second year in a row, Mediterranean monk seal images have been collected from the automatic cameras installed in the maternity cave of the Desertas Islands. Together, these are the first images ever taken of monk seals inside a cave in Madeira.

The cameras were installed when there was no seal activity in the cave, in order to avoid any possible disturbance.

Although the 13,000 images have yet to be properly analysed, a first look confirms once again that this system is actually an excellent tool to monitor the population. The pictures are now of a better quality (light and framing), improved by the experience gained during the first implementation of the system in 2012.

The results obtained during 2012 allowed us to observe events and situations which would otherwise have been missed, including two dead pups and two others alive. The total of 5 births counted in 2012 was the highest number ever recorded in the Desertas Islands — and is another indication that the monitoring of the population has improved significantly using this technique.

The peak activity of monk seals inside of the cave was recorded in October, coinciding with the occurrence of the largest number of births.

The continuation of this work and its expansion into other areas used, or with the potential to be used, by monk seals is undoubtedly an excellent investment in the monitoring of this species and consequently for its conservation.

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