Mediterranean Monk Seals

Discover Turkey and monachus monachus seals


Turkey's Monachus Monachus Seals

The Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus), which is a monk seal belonging to the family Phocidae, is one of the larger species of seals in the world. Turkey is considered as a natural haven for the Mediterranean monk seals which are in danger of extinction.

Mediterranean Monk Seal

Mediterranean monk seal population is estimated less than 700 in the world, just about 100 of the monk seals live only on the coastline of Turkey.

The Mediterranean monk seals are seen lesser in the Marmara and Black Sea, but they are most common around Foca near Izmir, on the Aegean coast. A local Mediterranean monk seal committee has set up in the town, followed by another at Yalikavak near Bodrum further to the south.

Apart from a small colony of monk seals on the shores of the Western Sahara on the Atlantic Ocean, the only remaining colonies of this species are the eastern Mediterranean. The fact that the species has survived along Turkey's shores is due to the preservation of the natural environment in many areas and low pollution levels. Further evidence that environmental conservation along Turkey's coast is succeeding is the continued existence of pine forest and long unspoilt beaches despite extensive construction in recent years.

Popular Habitats

Some parts of the coastline in Turkey are under strict environmental protection for the Mediterranean monk seals (Monachus monachus). These monk seals, altough rarely can be seen in the caves and coves in Foca and are rather human-shy.

20 sites in Turkey are classified as important habitats for the Mediterranean monk seals;

  • Canakkale (Gokceada, Bozcaada, Babakale)
  • Izmir (Foca, Karaburun, Mordogan, Alacati, Cesme)
  • Aydin (Dilek Peninsula, Kusadasi)
  • Mugla (Bodrum, Gulf of Gokova, Datca, Gocek)
  • Antalya (Beydaglari Coast National Park, Kemer)
  • Mersin (Gazipasa, Tasucu)
  • Adana (Cilician Basin)
  • Hatay (Samandag)

Protection of the Last Colonies

A program under the auspices of the Ministry of the Environment is underway to protect the last surviving colonies of the Mediterranean monk seals along Turkey's Mediterranean and Aegean coasts.

In addition, an international project is being conducted within the framework of the Bern and Barcelona conventions.

Turkey's Mediterranean Monk Seals
Monachus Monachus Seal, Foca, Izmir