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Marine Animal Encyclopedia

Mediterranean Monk Seal Monachus monachus

Both of the two species of Monachus seals are endangered. The larger of the two, the Mediterranean monk seal, is listed by the IUCN as critically endangered. Its coat varies from dark brown to light tan.

Females are larger than males, and the pups, unusually for seals, are born with black fur. This seal was once common, but centuries of hunting and disturbance have reduced its population to a few hundred. Most exist in the Mediterranean, but the largest colony is on the Atlantic coast of Morocco. Its closest living relative is the rare Hawaiian monk seal.

What Oceana Does

To protect Mediterranean marine ecosystems and preserve fishing opportunities, Oceana is focused on addressing all threats together, including: climate change; illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing; overfishing, pollution and oil and gas exploration and development.

Mediterranean Monk Seal habitat mapzoom image
  • Order Carnivora
  • Length 8–9 ft (2.5–2.7 m)
  • Weight 550–660 lb (250–300 kg)
  • Habitat Rocky coasts in warm-water regions
  • Distribution Atlantic coast of North Africa, Mediterranean