A few days ago a group of researchers from Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation located a young Mediterranean monk seal, which was deliberately killed by a dynamite explosion in the southwestern part of the Samos Island.
This incident is the second deliberate killing of a monk seal recorded in the eastern Aegean this month and the sixth within the last 14 months. The autopsy showed that the monk seal died by drowning and extensive internal bleeding, which in combination with the other findings is estimated to have been caused by a dynamite explosion. Inhabitants of the area report that illegal fishing with the use of explosives is a frequent and chronic local problem and claim to know the possible perpetrators.
Recently Archipelagos gave an affidavit to Samos Port Police, which is in collaboration with Samos’s District Attorney, with the aim to locate the perpetrators.
Request for help – information: We ask for your help in stopping the slaughter of these rare animals. Every photo, substantiated information or any other evidence, even if delivered anonymously, will contribute massively in helping us to find and punish the perpetrators.
Our seas are home to the last important remaining population of Mediterranean monk seals worldwide. Out of a total surviving population of about 450 the Greek seas support about 200-250 monk seals. This is a great blessing but also a great responsibility. This species is extremely rare; it is the most endangered marine mammal in Europe and second most engendered in the world. Greece is obligated to protect the Mediterranean monk seals not only by numerous international conventions, European and national legislation, but also by a moral obligation to protect these last few surviving individuals of the species. Unfortunately, it appears that for many years the national authorities have thought that protecting them can be done through creating technical reports, bureaucratic manipulations and inefficient, costly campaigns. In this way they have been satisfied, believing that they are fulfilling what is necessary for the survival and protection of the species.
The problem of intentional killings of monk seals is not local to the eastern Aegean. According to the reports collected by the Archipelagos network, the situation is equally alarming in almost all Greek seas. Let us not forget that the seals found dead represent only a small fraction of those killed or dying on over 18,000 km of coastline.
The state seems to be unable to grasp the extent of the problem of the deliberate killings of Mediterranean monk seals in the Greek Seas, and the true causes of it. Neither has it been able to realize the responsibility that corresponds to ensuring the survival of this very rare mammal. Inertia on the part of the national authorities endangers not only the population of monk seals, but all marine ecosystems.
All of us at the Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation refuse to sit on our hands and take the role of gravediggers, waiting for the complete extinction of the Mediterranean monk seals. For this specific incident we are going to exhaust all legal means to identify and initiate criminal proceedings against the people who deliberately killed the seals by using explosives at sea!
We hope that the investigations of the port authority and the District Attorney’s office, along with the assistance of Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation, will put an end to this massacre.