An unacceptable and dangerous article and photographs about the monk seal which the inhabitants of Samos call Argiro was released yesterday. The report presented photographs of people playing with the seal, something that is not only illegal, but also dangerous. What is not mentioned in the publication is that many people who wanted to do that had to be hospitalized because they were bitten. This happened not only to people who were harassing the seal, but also to others who were swimming nearby and were not involved in the harassment. It should be stressed that these incidents happened solely due to harassment of the seal, which is not aggressive but rather “playful”. It is inconceivable that someone wants to play with a carnivorous wild mammal which exceeding 130 kilograms in weight.
The article makes an unauthorized mention of Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation, without ever consulting with us, showing the seal in an unacceptable way. This irresponsible misrepresentation of reality is accompanied by an old video presenting the situation from over a year ago.
We should emphasize that outside of the tourist season, when the seal coexists only with the local community, such problems do not occur as the swimmers respect this animal and keep the required distances. Unfortunately, during summer months it is very difficult to avoid the harassment by visitors.
Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation identified this seal 2.5 years ago and has selflessly spent thousands of hours monitoring and protecting this unique animal and public safety. We have been doing this thanks to the tireless voluntary contribution of researchers and students, as well as a wide network of local volunteers comprised of fishermen, farmers, tourism professionals, students, teachers, etc., with the valuable assistance of the local port authorities.
Our aim is to monitor the seal closely, while also to deter it from coming to beaches frequented by swimmers so that it remains in its natural environment away from people. We try to limit harassment incidents as well as general human interaction with this seal. This particular one is an adult animal, which we believe that will be naturally reintroduced to its natural environment and has no reason to coexist with humans.
The seal travels along a coastline of 20 miles and therefore it is impossible to monitor it continuously. For this reason the responsible behavior of visitors but also of the media is essential.
This seal is not a mascot, but a wild animal belonging to a highly endangered species. It is soon going to reach sexual maturity and we expect it to be gradually reintegrated into its natural environment. This will happen only if people stop this unacceptable harassment.
In order to protect swimmers and seals we once again appeal to those who see the animal to contact Archipelagos directly (00302273061191) or the Port Authority of Samos. For the safety of all it is essential to prevent any forms of interaction with the seal.