Wildlife

New Home for Rare Seals Discovered

The world’s rarest seals have been caught on camera in secret breeding caves in northern Cyprus. The new breeding sites provide hope for a struggling species, but the caves are now in need of protection.

Mediterranean monk seals (Monachus monachus) are the most endangered of all the pinniped species — a group that includes seals, sea lions, sea otters and walruses — with just 700 individuals left in the wild. A large number of those seals live in and around Cyprus.

Due to human pressures, such as bycatch and tourism, the monk seals have been forced to raise their pups inside cave systems, rather than their usual open beaches, on the island. A new study using camera traps, carried out by researchers from the University of Exeter in the U.K. has revealed several previously unknown breeding caves in northern Cyprus, the first to be found along the north coast of the island.

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