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Nov, 2018

"The return of the monk seal in Fuerteventura"

The Ministry for Ecological Transition is preparing the introduction of the monk seal in Fuerteventura, a species that is officially extinct in Spain. The heads of the ministry met with representatives of the Cabildo and of the Canarian Government in order to present a demographic viability study for the return of this marine mammal that disappeared from Spanish waters at the beginning of the eighties.

Perfect candidate

The objective is for the new population of monk seals brought from the White Cape in Mauritania to live in a tranquil environment. This is why scientists chose the Natural Park of Jandía, as this is a location with a low human density, where tourism is respectful of the environment and where they will have an abundance of food on a long coastline that is well preserved. Furthermore, in that area fishing by trawling is forbidden as well as the use of nets, which reduces to a minimum the threats. The ministry explained that although there are other locations where they could introduce the mammal, they chose Fuerteventura because it is a perfect location geographically speaking between the monk seal populations of Mauritania and Madeira (Portugal). The quantity of monk seals that Mauritania will give to Spain hasn't been decided yet, but it could reach about 36 specimens over ten years.

Definitive project

This study is the first phase so that the Canarian Government can elaborate the definitive project that will be presented to the State Commission of Natural Heritage and Biodiversity and to the Environment Sectorial Conference. If they give their approval, they will get the green light for the reintroduction of the monk seal in the archipelago, which could start in 2019. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States is also collaborating in this project through their programme of Research on the Monk Seal of Hawaii. This archipelago is the only one to shelter a world population of monk seals, which is quite similar to the one that will be introduced in Fuerteventura. This is where they have carried out a project of translocation that could be a great model to follow for this trial in the Canaries.

 

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