Headlines – News – Articles
28th May, 2015

MOm reports on the progress of Andriana

from MOm’s Facebook page

A month after her release, Andriana continues to enjoy her journeys in the northwestern Aegean. The daily distances she travels are impressive, while diving depth has been steadily increasing and has reached to a depth of 50m. Until now Andriana has completed her first “tour” of the northwestern Aegean Sea (as can be seen on the map), returning just recently to the island of Alonissos in the National Marine Park of Alonissos, Northern Sporades (NMPANS). During this “tour” Andriana managed already to get entangled in a long-line; we would like to thank our friend from Kria Vrisi at the island of Evoia and the members of the Management Body of the NMPANS who helped to free Andriana from this fishing equipment.

Every single one of us can make a difference and help, not only Andriana, but all wildlife live in harmony next to us. It should be noted that the data collected by Andriana’s tag are extremely important in helping us understand how monk seals move and behave in their marine environment and ultimately help us protect them more efficiently.

28th April, 2015

Orphaned monk seal Andriana released

Orphaned monk seal Andriana was released at Piperi in the Northern Sporades Marine Park yesterday, following a brief overnight stay at the MOm rehabilitation unit in Steni Vala. Andriana had been in care at MOm’s new facility at the Attica Zoological Park since mid-November.

Consultant veterinarian Prof. Anastasia Komnenou gives Andriana a final health check before release, having overseen the application of the satellite tag and flipper identity tag.

Consultant veterinarian Prof. Anastasia Komnenou gives Andriana a final health check before release, having overseen the application of the satellite tag and flipper identity tag.

Volunteers carry Andriana to the waiting Coast Guard launch at Steni Vala, for the onward journey into the Marine Park.

Volunteers carry Andriana to the waiting Coast Guard launch at Steni Vala, for the onward journey into the Marine Park.

Andriana testing the waters at Piperi.

Andriana testing the waters at Piperi.

Andriana's release at Piperi.

Andriana’s release at Piperi.

9th April, 2015

The conservation workshop that wasn’t


“Mediterranean monk seal biologists and managers are jetting across oceans to Hawaii to attend the International Collaboration for the Conservation of Monk Seals. The HMSRP and our international colleagues will be spending the next two weeks sharing science, outreach and management experiences to help both species of monk seal. We will be sharing news, updates and interesting facts over the next 2 weeks.” — NOAA Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program

Some — including The Monachus Guardian — have questioned the wisdom of convening a “closed door” workshop of this type at a time of severe funding shortages, urgent conservation challenges at the grassroots level, and lack of stakeholder participation in both Hawaii and the Mediterranean. [See comments on the Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program Facebook page for a brief overview of the debate — or rather, the debate that should be.]

While the 12-day event in Hawaii is now hastily being described as a “technical workshop” only (— one wonders why, then, it is billed as “International Collaboration for the Conservation of Monk Seals”), it is a fallacy to contend that discussions on such issues as human-seal interactions and translocation will have no direct bearing on practical management choices for the species and its habitats. With many monk seal conservationists not participating in the workshop, both from Hawaii and the Mediterranean, one wonders when the usual “top down” conservation management habits of the past will be seen for what they are: counter-productive. While it may be unrealistic or impractical for every interested party to attend such a workshop, one cannot help but ask why even the most rudimentary details have not been provided to other interested parties and the public at large — such as a workshop agenda and a list of participants.

“The usual top down approaches have failed monk seals everywhere. We need a new paradigm of collaboration and cooperation among all stakeholders, not simply a few singular entities. A true international collaboration and discussion could be tremendously helpful.” — Monk Seal Foundation

“An event where they announce they’ll be ‘sharing science, outreach and management experiences’ but yet aren’t even inviting the NOAA Recovery Program that is responsible for a great deal of outreach and management? smh There are many organizations in Hawaii and Europe (been in touch with a few this weekend) that could have potentially benefited from attending even if it was simply to learn. At a time when Federal Funding isn’t even remotely close to what is needed to save the species, it’s imperative that opportunities not be wasted.” — Pat Wardell

13th November, 2013

First pup of 2013 spends 24 hours in Desertas Islands Rehabilitation Unit

by Rosa Pires, Parque Natural da Madeira Service
The pup resting on Tabaqueiro beach, Desertas Islands. Photo: PNMS.

The pup resting on Tabaqueiro beach, Desertas Islands. Photo: PNMS.

We are now in the monk seal pupping season in Madeira’s Desertas Islands. Over recent years, peak births have occurred in October, but this year we detected the first pup on 31 October. This pup was observed over 4 days to be always alone, resting on the same beach – Tabaqueiro. When on one day it was considered to be overly lethargic, it was decided to take the pup to the Rehabilitation Unit on the Desertas Islands. Fortunately, this allowed us to confirm that the pup was in a good condition; a male about three weeks of age, 114cm in length and weighing around 20kg. Awaiting better sea conditions, the young seal was released into its natural habitat the following day. Immediately entering the sea, it swam to the cave where we believe it was born – Tabaqueiro cave, considered the monk seal maternity cave of the Desertas Islands. → Continue reading First pup of 2013 spends 24 hours in Desertas Islands Rehabilitation Unit

4th September, 2013

Wounded Madeiran monk seal returns to the sea

by Rosa Pires, Parque Natural da Madeira Service

[click on images to enlarge]

On 27 August 2013 a Mediterranean monk seal was found in a weakened state at Porto Moniz, on the northern coast of Madeira island.

This seal, known as “Half”, an adult male who has been monitored since 1997 by PNMS (Parque Natural da Madeira Service), was observed by local people on a small stony beach, its debilitated state apparently due to a severe injury in the neck area. → Continue reading Wounded Madeiran monk seal returns to the sea

25th September, 2012

Naxos monk seal pup


Naxos monk seal pup

The Naxos monk seal pup, prior to its rescue on 19 September. Photo courtesy: Thomas Sebralla

22nd September, 2012

Stranded monk seal rescued on Naxos — but was it harassed with good intentions first?

Photo Courtesy Thomas Lienenbröker and Thomas Sebralla

A Mediterranean monk seal pup, possibly separated from its mother following rough weather earlier in the week, has been rescued on the Cycladic island of Naxos. It was taken into care and evacuated to Athens on 20 September by the Greek NGO MOm, the Hellenic Society for the Study & Protection of the Monk Seal.

Two German visitors to Naxos alerted TMG of the stranding, describing the young seal as approximately 1-1.2 meters in length with characteristic white belly patch. Their first sighting occurred at around 12:00 noon on Wednesday 19 September at Agia Ana, where their curiosity was aroused by the presence of a small crowd at the harbour beach.

“When we got closer,” Thomas Lienenbröker and Thomas Sebralla reported, “we realized that there was a small seal trying to crawl onto the beach. […] There were about maybe 10 people around, of which two Greeks tried to make the seal crawl back into the water. One of them grabbed the seal by its tail and took it a few meters into the sea. It swam a couple of meters and then tried to get back onto land again, a couple of meters further down the beach. We asked if anyone had called for help, and we were told that the coast guard had been informed.”

Returning to the scene at around 18.00, there was again an assembled crowd, this time including two coast guard officers. The pup, reported Lienenbröker and Sebralla, could be seen “under a bushy tree in the shade… seemingly exhausted, but alive.”

Concluding that the seal was now in safe hands, the two men left to catch the bus. “On leaving we noticed the coast guard heading towards their car and leaving the scene, with more than 25 people standing around the seal. Waiting for the bus we then could see someone grabbing the seal and taking it back into the water. It swam a short while and then tried to get back onto land again. When we left on the bus the seal had made its way back up onto the beach, with even more people looking on.”

Although the Coast Guard and Port Police form an integral part of the RINT monk seal rescue network in Greece, this case appears to demonstrate how important it would be for some designated authority to control the scene of a stranding, ensuring the appropriate measures are taken, and misguided intrusions by the public prevented.

Under care in Athens. Photo courtesy MOm

Unless indicated otherwise by expert guidance, members of the public should not approach a stranded monk seal, but keep it under observation from a distance, reporting its presence to the Port Police, or directly to MOm, the NGO which administers the RINT. Under no circumstances should the animal be touched or manhandled — factors likely to increase stress and worsen its condition, as well as jeopardising any possibility of an abandoned pup being reunited with its mother.

The 3-week old Naxos pup was described as weak and dehydrated by MOm as it arrived in Athens on Thursday, en route to Alonnisos where the organisation still operates a dilapidated 20 year old rehabilitation cabin, in much need of renewal or replacement.

Center map

11th April, 2012

“Fokionas” reunited with the sea

Press Release, MOm, 11 April 2012

Fokionas' release, 7 April 2012

On Saturday April the 7th, young “Fokionas”, the Mediterranean monk seal found at Syros on the 16th of February, returned back to his natural environment. After almost two months in the Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre of MOm in Alonnisos, a healthy and strong “Fokionas” was released in to the National Park of Alonnisos Northern Sporades.

When found at the age of three months, “Fokionas” was weak, very dehydrated, in a bad dietary condition and weighed merely 23 kg. His transport to the Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre of MOm in Alonnisos was deemed necessary in order to ensure his survival.

Under the supervision of the experts of MOm and the veterinarian in charge, “Fokionas” followed a specialized and intensive rehabilitation program that aimed in treating an infection and the parasites that had befallen him. Already from the first days of the treatment “Fokionas” responded positively and ate whole fishes, as he had stayed long enough with his mother to learn the basic feeding and hunting skills.

Upon release, “Fokionas” had reached a body weight of 58 kilos, while all veterinary examinations indicated that he is in an excellent health condition. It should be noted that “Fokionas” was one of the strongest and wildest pups to enter rehab at the Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre of MOm.

Source: “Fokionas” is back to the sea! MOm, 11 April 2012