Fun Mediterranean Monk Seal Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Jan 13, 2023 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 06, 2021
Edited by Isobel Murphy
Fact-checked by Sakshi Raturi
Mediterranean monk seal facts are extremely dynamic and interesting to read.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.0 Min

The Mediterranean monk seal is listed under the Critically Endangered status in the IUCN Red List. These animals live along the northwest African coast, the Mediterranean Sea, the Atlantic Ocean, and Greece.

Over the years these seals have suffered habitat loss and a sharp decline in their population as they have been hunted down for their meat and skin.

Over the last 25 years, efforts have been made to support monk seal conservation, including trying to prevent any further habitat loss, more research into the species, nursing wounded seals, and taking care of orphaned pups.

Monk seals were once known to live on open sandy beaches but now they have shifted their habitat to inaccessible beaches in order to keep themselves safer. Apart from being hunted by human beings, these seals often sadly also die accidentally by becoming entangled in fishing gear.

The diet of this animal consists of fish, sardines, tuna, mollusks, eels, and octopuses. These animals aren't migratory but they often travel long distances in search of food.

They are incredible swimmers and can even surpass sharks in their swimming abilities! Adults reach sexual maturity around the age of four and breeding takes place all year round.

The peak mating season is from October to November but the life expectancy of a pup during the breeding season is only 29%. On average, this marine species of seals lives up to 20-25 years of age.

If you enjoyed reading this article all about the Mediterranean monk seal, don't forget to check our other articles on leopard seals and the Weddell seal too!

Mediterranean Monk Seal Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Mediterranean monk seal?

The Mediterranean monk seal is a kind of a seal.

What class of animal does a Mediterranean monk seal belong to?

Mediterranean monk seals belong to the class Mammalia.

How many Mediterranean monk seals are there in the world?

There are only 500 pairs remaining of Mediterranean monk seals in the world.

Where does a Mediterranean monk seal live?

In earlier days these animals were found along the coastlines of the Black Sea, the offshore islands of the Mediterranean Sea, and even on islands in the Atlantic Ocean, namely the Canary Islands, Porto Santo, the Azores, and Cape Verde.

Now, this endangered species of marine mammals is only found in the north-eastern Mediterranean and the north-eastern Atlantic, in the coastal regions of northwest Africa.

The Aegean Sea is one of the main hubs of this species. The main concentration of these animals is found on Gyaros Island followed by Greece and Turkey.

Other important areas where these animals are found are on the coast of Africa, Cabo Blanco, in the Desertas Islands, and in the coastal waters of Cintra Bay.

What is a Mediterranean monk's seal habitat?

Mediterranean monk seals live in caves that are generally inaccessible and in coastal areas surrounded by cliffs. In the past, these seals were known to live on open beaches, but due to frequent hunting and fishing activities, these seals now tend to live in protected areas.

Who do Mediterranean monk seals live with?

Mediterranean monk seals can be seen living in a colony of 20 animals.

How long does a Mediterranean monk seal live?

The average lifespan of this marine mammal is 20-25 years. However, some of these animals can also live up to 45 years of age.

How do they reproduce?

The prime breeding season of the species of Mediterranean monk seals is from September to November. However, breeding takes place all year round. This species of seal, Mediterranean monk, reaches its sexual maturity at the age of four.

The monk seal is a polygynous marine mammal. Adult males are known to be territorial in nature about the places they mate with females. Mating usually takes place underwater and females then use their body fat to look after the newborn pups.

Only 29% of the total population is known to survive the breeding season. Females choose underwater caves to nurse their pups in.

If the female thinks the environment isn't safe enough for her pup, she may take the necessary measures to abort the pup. The gestation period is very slow, taking around 11 months, after which the mother gives birth.

After birth, the pup usually stays with the mother and weaning takes place at about 16-17 weeks of age. In other seasons, except for October to November, when females give birth, the survival rate of these pups increases to 71%.

What is their conservation status?

The status of the Mediterranean monk seal, Monachus monachus, is listed as Critically Endangered under the IUCN Red List. It is not extinct, but the Mediterranean monk seal is one of the rarest marine mammals in the world.

Conservation of this endangered species has been a difficult issue since there is not much known about these marine mammals. Under the Bonn Convention, the conservation of these animals began in the year 2007 which aimed to safeguard and recover the declining seal population in the eastern Atlantic.

Mediterranean Monk Seal Fun Facts

What do Mediterranean monk seals look like?

The skin of the Mediterranean monk seal, Monachus monachus, is either black, brown, or gray. Generally, a male has black hair, whereas a female has dark brown to gray hair on her body.

Females have a rectangular white stripe on their belly whereas males have a butterfly-shaped mark. This endangered species has long nostrils and faces upwards. The color of its hair varies and adults molt annually.

Mediterranean Monk Seal

How cute are they?

The Mediterranean monk seal, Monachus monachus, looks very adorable, just like fur seals who are also very cute to look at.

How do they communicate?

This species (Mediterranean monk seal) produces high-pitched sounds while communicating with each other. This species of seal does this in order to warn other seals of forthcoming danger.

How big is a Mediterranean monk seal?

Newborns of the Mediterranean monk seal, Monachus monachus, species are about 2.6 ft (0.8 m) long. They grow up to be around 7.9 ft (2.4 m) as adults. The male seal of this species is larger than the female.

How fast can a Mediterranean monk seal swim?

This endangered species of monk seal is very fast when swimming. In fact, they are known to outswim sharks!

How much does a Mediterranean monk seal weigh?

An adult monk seal weighs around 551-661 lb (250-300 kg).

What are their male and female names of the species?

No specific names have been given to male and female Mediterranean monk seals.

What would you call a baby Mediterranean monk seal?

A baby Mediterranean monk seal is called a pup.

What do they eat?

This seal eats a variety of food that is found throughout its range. Their diet consists of fish, mollusks, eels, and octopuses.

Are they dangerous?

They are not known to be aggressive in nature. In fact, human beings pose more danger to these seals than they do to us. They have been hunted over the ages for their skin and body parts.

Would they make a good pet?

This variety of seals has the status of Critically Endangered under the IUCN Red List. It is not suitable or legal to keep them as pets. They are best known to survive in their natural habitat, which is on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.

Did you know...

One of the main reasons behind the decline of the Mediterranean monk seal is the destruction of their natural habitat, killings from hunting, and entangling themselves accidentally in fishing gear.

The largest surviving population of the Mediterranean monk seal is in Gyros Island in Greece in the Mediterranean Sea.

This species of seals is endangered. Conservation measures that are being taken include habitat protection, scientific research, rescue and protection of the wounded seals, and conservation of its population by increasing awareness.

It is said that this Endangered species has a monkish appearance due to the shape of its head and shoulders. This is where the name 'monk' seal comes from!

Monk seals can also be found in Hawaii. These are called Hawaiian monk seals, and there are approximately 1,400 Hawaiian monk seals currently living in Hawaii.

Why are Mediterranean monk seals important?

Mediterranean monk seals have a declining population and are at risk of becoming extinct if efforts for seal conservation don't continue. They are one of the few members of the genus Monachus, so it is important to keep the species alive.

In order for its species to survive and hopefully lose its Critically Endangered status, the protection of its kind is important through conservation methods including the implementation of marine protected areas for the Monachus monachus species and education about fishing safely among local communities in their distribution range.

What animals eat Mediterranean monk seals?

The monk seal doesn't have any known predators. They have usually hunted by human beings for their meat. However, in certain cases, it has been reported that these animals are hunted by killer whales and sharks.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these striped polecat facts and snow leopard facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Mediterranean monk seal coloring pages.

the mediterranean sea greece the atlantic ocean

Get directions
We Want Your Photos!
We Want Your Photos!

We Want Your Photos!

Do you have a photo you are happy to share that would improve this article?
Email your photos

More for You

See All

Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

Read full bio >
Fact-checked by Sakshi Raturi

Postgraduate Diploma in Management

Sakshi Raturi picture

Sakshi RaturiPostgraduate Diploma in Management

Sakshi has experience in marketing strategy, social media planning, and recruiting industry experts for capstone projects, she has displayed a commitment to enhancing their skills and knowledge. She has won multiple awards, including a Certificate of Appreciation for Creative Writing and a Certificate of Merit for Immaculate Turut, and is always seeking new opportunities to grow and develop.

Read full bio >