The Mediterranean Monk Seal (Monachus Monachus)
The warm climate of the Rhodian shores, the clean seas and marine meadows of posidonia on the southwestern side of the island are poles of attraction for the Mediterranean monk seal Monachus Monachus. Its length ranges between two and three meters, while it can reach up to three hundred fifty kilos in weight. Females are slightly smaller than males and their skin is covered by sleek fur half a centimetre in length. It is dark brown in colour, mates being black, with light-coloured spots on the nape, the neck and the betty, and females being grey or beige. The seal lives up to 45 years of age, the average lifespan being twenty years and reproductive maturity being reached around age five.
Mediterranean monk seals mate in the water and give birth either on sandy beaches or in caves that face the sea, to usually one or, very rarely, two pups every two years. The gestation period lasts ten months.
The Mediterranean monk seal moves and hunts its prey near the shores and no deeper than two hundred meters, with a maximum submersion time of fifteen to twenty minutes. It feeds on seabream, dentex, bogue, red mullet, octopuses, cuttlefish and crabs.
The Mediterranean monk seal is among the most endangered animal species of Europe and is characterized as a ‘critically endangered’ species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.