Mediterranean monk seals, Monachus monachus, are amongst the world’s most threatened marine mammals, with only a few hundreds left in the Mediterranean, confined to the eastern portion of the region, and a few more in the North Atlantic. The species has recently been down listed from Critically Endangered too simply Endangered in IUCN’s Red List, but I am not sure it was a good idea.
Conserving monk seals was the very first project of the Tethys Research Institute, when in 1986 we got funding from the Italian Ministry of agriculture to carry out a feasibility study for the establishment of a rescue-rehabilitation centre in northern Sardinia. That centre, however, never saw the light of day.
In subsequent years I was again involved in monk seal conservation efforts, having been contracted by the Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Monk Seal (also known as MOm) in 2009 to draft the National Strategy and Action Plan for the conservation of the Mediterranean monk seal in Greece, 2009-2015, and in 2014 by UNEP’s Mediterranean Action Plan to write the Regional Strategy for the conservation of monk seals in the Mediterranean.