Remarkable news. A diver from Palma claims to have seen (and taken photo above) a possible monk seal (foca monje – Monachus monachus) in the marine reserve of Isla del Toro. The monk seal is considered to be extinct is the Balearic Islands (where it was known popularly as the vell marí – old man of the sea) since the late 1950s, and is among the ten most endangered mammals in the world, with colonies divided between Mauritania and the Eastern Mediterranean, the former being far the stronger. If true, I imagine we are talking about an animal in dispersion or just plain lost. The Balearic government periodically considers the possibility of attempting to reintroduce the animal. Whether it would fare well in an area of sea so popular with pleasure craft is another question. See more in El País
Update: this version of the story from Libertad Balear is much better researched.
There is also a half plan to reintroduce the animal along the Costa Brava (La foca monje volverá a Cadaqués – El País)
A small group of monk seals survived in Cabo de Gata, Almeria until the 1960s.
- The Monachus Guardian
- La foca monje
- Monk seal (Wikipedia)
- Caribbean Monk Seal Gone Extinct From Human Causes Jun. 9, 2008) — After a five year review, NOAA’s Fisheries Service has determined that the Caribbean monk seal, which has not been seen for more than 50 years, has gone extinct — the first type of seal to go extinct from human causes.