The 5th dead Mediterranean monk seal for 2014…
On Monday we received a call from Amaliapolis Port Authority (Magnisia, Greece) to inform us that a dead Mediterranean monk seal was found lying dead on a beach near-by. Unfortunately, this is already the 5th incident reported in 2014, so far. Last year, MOm received 24 reports of dead monk seals, a species that is listed as Critically Endangered in the IUCN List of Threatened species, and is of international important.
Two days later, our research team visited the area in order to perform a necropsy, in an effort to identify the cause of death and to get samples that will shed light on the still poorly understood biology and behavior of the species.
When we reached the area, we encountered a dead male adult monk seal, about 2,60 m of total length. Unfortunately, its body was in a very advanced stage of decomposition; our estimate was that it has been dead for at least ten days prior to our arrival. Unfortunately, under these circumstances a proper necropsy is not feasible, thus it was not likely to assess the possible cause of death, on the spot.
However, important morphometric data and samples, such as teeth for an age estimate, skin tissue and the baculum (penis bone), were collected in order to be later analyzed.
Every time we encounter a dead animal we always check whether it is an individual that has been previously treated in our Rehabilitation center. Since 2005 MOm has been marking the animals that have been treated at the Rehabilitation and Reintroduction Center for the Mediterranean monk seal at the Alonissos island, with the use of satellite tag. The satellite tags are typically placed on the back of a seal prior to its release. This monk seal was scanned but no tag was found. Our genetic test, now, using the skin tissue will reveal whether or not is an animal that has been previously encountered in one of our monitoring expeditions, and filed in our database.
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