Headlines – News – Articles
18th August, 2014

Tourism could help save Mediterranean monk seals, but if unmanaged it will only accelerate their demise

Giuseppe Notarbartolo di Sciara

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[…] Unfortunately, the monk seal breeding season happens to coincide in part with the peak of the tourist season, a coincidence likely to result in making the seals even more endangered than they already are, as I had the opportunity of documenting yesterday in an undisclosed location of the Northern Dodecanese, in Greece.

There, sheltered on a small sandy beach at the far end of a large cave carved in the cliff of a small, uninhabited islet, lives today a female monk seal with her small pup. As it happens, the location is also very popular with tourists from nearby islands, who converge there aboard day-trip boats organised by local operators, as well as with their own vessels; and the word has spread that seals can be visited in the cave.

Well-managed, tourism could be a bonus for monk seal conservation because of the high value that visitors attribute to such charismatic animals. This value can be harnessed to the benefit of the local communities, which would then strive to protect the seals or, at a minimum, stop destroying them. However, in the current total absence of management, anyone can imagine the amount of disturbance that this seal pair is subjected to, in a most critical phase of their existence and in a moment in which their quiet and peace should be guaranteed at all costs. […] Full article.

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