Mediterranean Monk Seal

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Mediterranean Monk Seal
Conservation status: Critical
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Mammalia
Order:Carnivora
Suborder:Pinnipedia
Family:Phocidae
Genus:Monachus
Species:monachus
Binomial name
Monachus monachus
(Hermann, 1779)

The Mediterranean Monk Seal (Monachus monachus) is believed to be the world's rarest pinniped. This earless seal's range extends throughout the Mediterranean Sea (excluding the Adriatic, where sightings have been very rare over the last few decades) and into the Atlantic along Morocco's western coast line. However there are only thought to be about 400 individuals alive today.

These monk seals grow from around 80 cm to about 2.40 m in length and up to 320 kg in weight, with females slightly smaller than the males. Their fur is brown or dark grey, with a paler belly. The young are mostly born in autumn, entering the water two weeks afterwards, and are ablactated at around 18 weeks of age. The reproductive maturity is reached at around the age of four, and total age is over twenty years. Pregnant Mediterranean monk seals can often times be found in generally inaccessible undersea caves while giving birth.

The Mediterranean monk seals are diurnal and are believed to feed on fish and mollusks, primarily octopus, up to 3 kg per day. They are primarily endangered by human influences, notably after being almost eradicated by fishermen to avoid net destruction.

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