NICOSIA, Jan. 31 (Xinhua) — Cypriot Fisheries Department officials announced on Friday that three new Mediterranean seals (Monachus monachus of Monk Seals) were born last year, boosting the island’s seal population to 19.
“This is an incredibly important event for our island as the births come for the first time in decades,” said a statement by the Department of Fisheries and Marine Research under the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural development and Environment.
The three seals were born in the southern coastal area of Limassol and the Akamas region in the most northwestern part of the island.
The seals were born from September to December last year, but the announcement about their birth was delayed to protect them from visitors during the summer months when people flock to the sea.
“There are only a few Mediterranean seals in Cyprus, so we must take all necessary measures to maintain and grow their population,” Agriculture Minister Costas Kadis said.
“The three new babies, which belong to a threatened species with only 600 left worldwide, is a promising and exciting event for Cyprus,” he said.
According to the agriculture ministry, the baby seals will spend the first few months of their lives in sea caves but will gradually become more adventurous. They soon venture out for food, under their mother’s protection.
After three to four months, at the end of the lactation period, the seals grow up to be more independent and hunt on their own.
From the 1960s, the species became increasingly rare and there was no evidence of them reproducing on the island. Since 2011, the seal population is making a slow but steady recovery.
The Mediterranean seal has been protected since 1971 by the 1990 Fisheries Act. Enditem