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14th September, 2015

Translocation déjà vu

COMMENT

CBD_Habitat_screenIn declaring the Mediterranean monk seal colony at Cap Blanc in Mauritania/western Sahara “closed” [see blog], is Spanish NGO CBD-Habitat edging ever closer to resurrecting a plan that would see seals artificially translocated to other areas? The theory is that this would minimise the risk to the colony posed by mass mortality events, while helping to recolonise areas historically occupied by the species. Unfortunately, as earlier abandoned attempts to translocate or captive breed monk seals proved, the devil is in the detail.

With other signs indicating that a new translocation plan might already be on the drawing board, The Monachus Guardian has requested clarification from CBD-Habitat on no fewer than seven occasions, but has received no reply. Ironically, earlier, discredited and ultimately abandoned attempts to translocate monk seals — with all the attendant risks of seals being wounded or killed during capture and transport — were roundly condemned for their lack of transparency.

The Monachus Guardian’s view — shared by many involved in monk seal conservation — is that translocation should be examined carefully as a potential option in the recovery of the species, but only through wide and open consultation with the wider scientific and conservation community. While previous efforts to translocate or captive breed monk seals have routinely tried to sideline potential critics, others rightly insist that critics are precisely what are required in order to design a project that can highlight and mitigate potential risks. Pursuing controversial and potentially risky projects through the “backdoor” does a disservice to the Mediterranean monk seal and conservation at large.

13th February, 2012

NOAA removes “aggressive” monk seal from NWHI

Statement, NOAA Fisheries, 10 February 2012

In 2010 and 2011 NOAA Fisheries staff began to observe a nine-year old monk seal, KE18, attacking newly weaned and juvenile seals at Kure Atoll in the NWHI; causing injuries including lacerations, scratches and puncture wounds on this critical component of the monk seal population. KE18 seriously injured 10 of the 13 pups and an additional three juveniles during the 2010 and 2011 field camps on Kure Atoll. When KE18 transited to Midway Atoll there were two unexplained deaths during his time there.

→ Continue reading NOAA removes “aggressive” monk seal from NWHI

5th February, 2012

Research and showbiz planned for aggressive monk seal

Media Watch, Hawaii News Now, 4 February 2012

Marine mammal experts once considered KE-18 to be such a dangerous Hawaiian monk seal it appeared they had no choice but to euthanize him. Six months later KE-18 has been captured and is headed for life as a research subject and aquarium attraction.

KE-18 is known to have attacked at least 13 pups and juvenile seals at Kure and Midway Atolls. […]

The plan is to move KE-18 to U.C. Santa Cruz in late February. It is the same facility where another Hawaiian monk seal, KP2, lived for two years before being brought back to Hawaii and a permanent home at the Waikiki Aquarium.

While in Santa Cruz, KE-18 will serve as a research subject. [More]

Source: Research & showbiz planned for aggressive monk seal, Hawaii News Now, 4 February 2012.

16th December, 2011

KP2 in captivity at Waikiki Aquarium

Media Watch, Audrey McAvoy, Associated Press, 15 December 2011

A nearly blind Hawaiian monk seal found years ago trying to suckle a rock at a Kauai beach after his mother abandoned him is settling into his new home at the Waikiki Aquarium.

Hoailona, also known as KP2, has been poking his snout into the corners and edges of the outdoor pool as he explores the new environment he moved into this week. [Continues]

Source: Hawaiian monk seal finds new home at aquarium, Audrey McAvoy, Associated Press, 15 December 2011.

19th December, 2010

New books focus on the Caribbean monk seal

Two new books announced last week focus on the extinct Caribbean monk seal, Monachus tropicalis.

Caribbean Monk Seals: Lost Seals of the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea by John Hairr is published by Coachwhip Publications, and includes sections on the species’ various fateful interactions with humans, from native Americans to European explorers, hunters and ‘scientific’ expeditions.

The publisher states: ‘The Caribbean monk seal was a significant and charismatic member of the tropical marine ecosystem of southern Florida, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea. Author John Hairr delves into the fascinating history of a marine mammal that met its match in man, as overhunting for meat and oil (and even scientific specimens) drove it to extinction. Hairr looks at the intersections between this seal and the various cultures it encountered over the centuries, the narratives of a playful pinniped from the few times it was kept in captivity, and the expeditions that sought out any last remaining survivors of a vanishing species.’

Paperback: 198 pages
Publisher: Coachwhip Publications (January 3, 2011)
ISBN-10: 1616460636
ISBN-13: 978-1616460631
Price: $14.95 (USD)

The second book, Remembering a Species: A History of the Caribbean Monk Seal in Captivity by Charles Epting, is published by Lulu, the publisher’s blurb stating: ‘This book chronicles the fascinating, untold story of the Caribbean Monk Seal: the only seal native to the Caribbean Sea, the only species of true seal that has gone extinct in recent times, and, perhaps most interestingly, the only species of recently extinct mammalian carnivore that was displayed in captivity. This book looks at both scientific sources and primary sources to gather what is known about this species’ life in captivity in one volume.’

Paperback: 73 pages
Publisher: Lulu  (December 4, 2010)
ISBN 978-0-557-92778-4
Price: $7.95 (paperback) | $3.95 (download PDF)