Mediterranean Monk Seal Spotted Near Croatian Island of Lastovo

Katarina Anđelković

mediterranean monk seal, generic image

August 2, 2023 – The Adriatic sea is full of wonders. On Sunday, the boat camera of the M/B Nocturno of the Lastovo Islands Nature Park recorded what they assume was a Mediterranean monk seal.

“This is not the first report; we have received a few in the last two years. It certainly raises hope that the once permanent resident of this area has returned”, says the Park, as reported by Morski.

They added that they saw the Mediterranean monk seal live, and then they looked on the ship’s camera to see if it was also recorded there.

You can check out the full video here.

What to do if You Encounter a Mediterranean Monk Seal

The Mediterranean monk seal is considered a regionally extinct species in the Adriatic.

In order to preserve and improve the condition of the Mediterranean monk seal population in the Croatian part of the Adriatic, the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Nature (now Ministry of Environmental Protection and Energy) adopted rules of conduct with Mediterranean monk seals in the sea, in front of and in caves, on the coast or while driving a boat or speedboat.

At sea

If you see a Mediterranean monk seal while diving or swimming, you should remain calm, do not approach the animal and do not make sudden movements that could disturb or drive it away. Slowly and calmly swim as far away from it as possible.

In front of and in caves

Do not enter sea caves that have been recorded as potential habitats of Mediterranean monk seals and potential spawning sites (public notification by the competent public institution).

If you notice a Mediterranean monk seal while visiting a cave, you should remain calm and not make sudden movements. It is not recommended to go deeper into the cave because the animal could become agitated and aggressive, especially if it is a female with a cub. It is necessary to retreat towards the entrance of the cave while holding on to the wall of the cave so that the animal does not feel as if it is trapped. In this way, free entrance to the cave would be ensured, and the animal could escape if it felt threatened. Never try to swim or dive deeper into the cave.

On the coast

If a Mediterranean monk seal is spotted on the shore, it is necessary to remain calm and not make sudden movements. It is best to hide and observe the animal hidden. A seal on land does not necessarily need human intervention, as it may be an individual molting or in a deep sleep. It is advisable to take a photo of the animal or carefully observe it, and assess the animal’s size, colour, behaviour, and other details related to the encounter.

While in a boat/speedboat

Tourist boats/speedboats are not allowed in areas where frequent sightings of monk seals have been recorded and where there is a possibility of new offspring (notification of the public by the competent public institution). If a Mediterranean monk seal is observed from a boat/speedboat, it is necessary to stop the vessel and wait for the animal to move away.

In the sea, the distance from the animal should be at least 30 m, and on land (beach, cave) at least 20 m.

Every sighting of a Mediterranean monk seal, whether injured, sick, or dead, must be reported to the number 112 or directly to Institute for Environmental and Nature Protection (ZZOP). It is also possible to report to the Mediterranean Seal Group (Grupa Sredozemna Medvjedica) in Zagreb, who will consolidate all the data and deliver it to the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Energy – the Directorate for Nature Protection and the ZZOP.

Any intentional disturbance of the Mediterranean monk seal must be reported to the State Inspectorate, and if you notice a protected species in nature, be sure to report it to the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development via the web form.


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