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6th November, 2011

New monk seal sightings in Italy

— Luigi Guarrera – Gruppo Foca Monaca Italia

Sighting at Giglio

GFM – Gruppo Foca Monaca Italia reports two recent, confirmed monk seal sightings along the Italian coasts.

The first one took place in July in the same area where in 2002 a young monk seal was observed for a considerable time and many photos taken, Metaponto, in southern Italy (Basilicata). Some tourists from Trento saw, not far from the shore, and for about an hour, a couple of adult  seals with a “playing attitude” (probably courtship). Unfortunately they did not have any camera or mobile with camera, but — when interviewed — gave very detailed information about the sighting.

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11th July, 2011

Monk seal filmed at Cres, Northern Adriatic

Croatian NGO Blue World has released footage of a Mediterranean monk seal filmed on 24 June around the island of Cres, in the Northern Adriatic (via the Italian OggiScienza TV magazine). Having studied the footage, Jasna Antolović of the Grupa Sredozemna Medvjedica has expressed the view that the seal might be a young female that her group has been monitoring since 2009 around the Kamenjak peninsula (Pula).

 

29th April, 2011

Monk seal sightings in Egypt

— Giuseppe Notarbartolo di Sciara, Tethys Research Institute, Milano, Italy

— Mahmoud Fouad, Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency, Cairo, Egypt

Photo: A. M. Abd El Malek

On 7 April, during a recent trip along Egypt’s Mediterranean coast to establish stakeholder contacts in implementing a National Action Plan for the Conservation of Cetaceans in that country, funded by the Regional Activity Centre for Specially Protected Areas (RAC/SPA) of Tunis, we were informed by the local community of Marsa Matrouh of a spate of monk seal sightings in the area. The news had generated considerable excitement, since the species has long been considered extinct in Egypt.

In a meeting at the offices of the Director of Environmental Affairs of the Marsa Matrouh Governorate, fishermen reported that seals had been observed several times during the previous 10 days. Mr. Abd El Malek in particular, a fisherman about 60 years old, was very clear. He had begun noticing that something was pulling fish out of his trammel nets, “in a very professional way”, i.e. without breaking the mesh. His boys had told him that they had seen a very strange animal around the nets, similar to those they had watched on TV, in the “yellow square” (National Geographic) eating penguins under the ice. At first he didn’t believe them: throughout his life, he’d never seen a seal in these waters; other fishermen said the same. After several attempts, however, they indeed caught a glimpse of a seal resting on one of the small sandy beaches along the local rocky coastline, and managed to take a few pictures and even a short video with their cell phones. Other fishermen agreed, asserting that they had frequently seen up to five seals during the same period, in a location about 5 km away from the first, and that their nets had been completely destroyed.

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28th April, 2011

Croatian and Italian groups continue joint monitoring at Kamenjak

Photo: Marko Jelic, GFM

Jasna Antolović reports that Croation and Italian groups (Grupa Sredozemna Medvjedica; Gruppo Foca Monaca) continue their regular monitoring of the Kamenjak peninsula (Pula), where sightings over recent years suggest that the species is attempting to reestablish itself after a long absence.

On 24 March, GSM member Marko Jelic succeeded in taking a photograph of a monk seal resting on the beach of a cave in the area — apparently a first in the history of the conservation of the species in the Adriatic.

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12th September, 2010

Seal sightings in Lebanon

Simon Nadim, Managing Director of the Pure Tech Diving Facility in Batroun, Lebanon, has contacted TMG to report two separate sightings of a Mediterranean monk seal, on the 15.08.2010 and 04.09.2010 respectively.

The encounters both occurred whilst diving amongst caves in northern Lebanon and were recorded on video. The animal is reported to be at least 2m in length, and is evidently in good condition.

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17th June, 2009

Monk seal sighting at Giglio Island

by Luigi Bundone and Luigi Guarrera, Gruppo Foca Monaca
Giglio Island, Italy, 7 June 2009 (Photo Marco Prete)

Giglio Island, Italy, 7 June 2009 (Photo Marco Prete)

Last Sunday 7 June, in the waters of Giglio Island, Tuscan Archipelago, another individual was sighted not far from the tower of Giglio Campese. The encounter lasted for about two hours, thanks in part to the considerate attitude shown by people present during the event. Franca Zanichelli, the Director of the National Park of the Tuscan Archipelago, released a short interview to the Italian press agency ANSA: “I am really enthusiastic, we have immediately verified the sighting together with GFM Italia, a group we cooperate with since a long time. In fact I am not so much surprised by the news: I am pretty aware that, even if these animals are rare, they still live in our sea. And the behaviour of the observers was very good, they did not disturb the seal, receiving as a perfect gift in exchange an experience that would represent an impossible dream for many naturalists”.

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