The Mediterranean monk seal is one of the most fascinating species on the planet, due to because of its habits and especially its origin. The genus monachus, to which it belongs, is considered the most primitive of all the existing seal, dating back 15 million years and from which all others derived, and its cradle is the Mediterranean. Long ago, it was pread all over the basin and the Black Sea, the African Atlantic coast and the Macaronesian islands. Today, however, it is one of the ten mammals at greatest risk of extinction on the planet, with just a few hundred specimens scattered across various islands of the Mediterranean and the Atlantic.
This report is made on the Coast of seals, in Mauritania, where the largest Mediterranean monk seal colony in the world is located. Its study and conservation are carried out by CBD-Habitat, a Spanish Foundation that operates there since 1994. Its in-depth knowledge of the problems of this species, its curious customs (the seals lead a playful life, with many social interactions between them) and of the greater respect that man professes them in those areas where they live, encourage the idea of being able to reintroduce seals back into Spain in the near future.
Photographs © Francisco Márquez