Environment and Urbanization Minister Murat Kurum has stated that the government is working on a scheme to protect Mediterranean monk seals.

Kurum said that “once the ministry’s Biodiversity Research Report is completed, we will protect the habitats of the Mediterranean monk seals to increase their population,” as there are only 600 of monk seals left in the entire marine ecosystem.

The territory and population of monk seals in Foca, Gokova, Datca and Bozburun have been monitored since 2017 and no fish farms have been allowed near their habitats.

The monk seal has been called a “living fossil,” because fossil records show it was hunting the tropical seas as long as 15 million years ago. Monk seals reproduce slowly, sometimes only every other year, starting at the age of four and the pup may stay with its mother for as long as 3 years.

The monk seal is shy and can easily be disturbed by humans. They come ashore only in small, hidden coastal caves and beaches. Continued population growth of Mediterranean countries brings increased beach use, boat traffic, and overfishing of the monk seal’s prey and this along with net fishing has led to the decline of the species.

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