The Critically Endangered Mediterranean monk seal Monachus monachus in the archipelago of Madeira
The Mediterranean monk seal is categorized as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List and is in urgent need of effective conservation measures.
Following a steep decline in the 20th century, the National Park Service of Madeira initiated efforts to protect the species in the archipelago of Madeira, including habitat protection, scientific research and public awareness. The aim of this study was to analyse data collected during a monitoring project (1988 2005) to assess the conservation status of the species and identify priority conservation actions for the future.
The study recorded the presence of the species at key pupping sites in a strictly protected area at the Desertas Islands, increased sightings in recent years around the main island of Madeira, an increase in the number of pups born, and low mortality. The population in the archipelago of Madeira is currently estimated to be 20-30 adults.
These findings suggest that the species remains Critically Endangered in the area but that its conservation situation has improved because of the implementation of effective conservation actions. Conservation priorities identified include protecting suitable monk seal habitat at Madeira, investigating seal fisheries interactions, increasing environmental education, and strengthening regional legislation for the protection of the species.