Two new orphan pups under rehab in Foça, Türkiye
Coast Guard Command and Gendarmery have informed SAD-AFAG about two monk seal (Monachus monachus) pups in 18th December 2010 from Bozyazı region, Mersin and Kas region, Antalya respectively. Meanwhile Mehmet Sarı has informed Ministry of Environment & Forest Mersin District Directorate about the seal pup found in Bozyazı. Upon arrival of SAD-AFAG rescue team on the sites, at 24.00 hours in 18th December and 03.30 hours in 19th December, both seals are met and first interventions were made succesfully by Vet Avni Gök, Ayhan Tonguç and Erkin Tonguç providing ORS. Ministry of Environment staff including a Vet assisted the transport of Mersin seal until Kemer town of Antalya to save time to meet SAD-AFAG rehab team on the half way as well as assisting the ORS application for the pups (see the map below). It is considered that the heavy storm happened in 15th December in the Mediterranean part of Türkiye may cause the seperation of mothers and pups who were found in the same day, 18th December. Both pups are female and estimated as 15-20 days old when they were found on site.
As of 7th January 2011, the pups are still in “Foca Monk Seal Rehab Unit” and their health conditions are fine at the moment. SAD-AFAG is doing the rehab process by its rehab team led by Vet Avni Gök and N. Ozan Veryeri and assisted by Zafer Kızılkaya, Cem O. Kıraç, Erkin Tonguç and AyhanTonguç with other several SAD volunteers to support rehab process.
The important development is that after the force feeding sessions during the first week, as SAD-AFAG rehab team had been trying its best with care and patience, we have eventually managed to feed both seals by just offering minced fish porridge in the cups with the enough quantity. Both seals has fully been managing to “drink” the fish porridge from the cups ingesting the whole food slowly but without any problem since 26th and 31st December 2010 successively. Since these dates indicated above, no force feeding has been applied to both pups at all. This is a novel feeding technique sustained for a consistent period for rehabilitation of monk seal pups. The seals gained weight compared to their initial arrival to “Foca Monk Seal Rehab Unit” in 19th December 2010 early morning while the pups have already started to chase live fish and octopus in their pool in the rehab unit. It is expected that the pups may start live fish catching and eating soon. We shall be keeping the authorities and audiences posted any development on the rehab of two new pups regularly while SAD-AFAG is keen to share the new feeding technique and experience on site, with the relevant bodies and NGOs in and outside Türkiye with special reference to i-monk Alliance members. For this purpose, SAD-AFAG has initially invited Turkish Ministry of Environment & Forest (MoEF), Environmental Protection Agency for Speacial Araes (EPASA) and METU Rectorate (METU-Institute of Marine Science at Erdemli, Mersin) staff to Foça with a view to sharing acquired experiences and increasing capacity. It is believed that there will be several advantages with this feeding technique including not forcing seals to let them eat fish porridge & therefore creating no stress on pups, and not touching seals to help reduce risk of getting habituated to human during rehab as well as saving time, personnel & money during monk seal rehabs.
Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus) is a globally endangered species under CR (criticially endangered) category according to IUCN. Worldwide distribution of this rare marine mammal includes four countries mainly; Greece and Türkiye in the Mediterranean and Madeira (Portugal) and Western Sahara & Mauritania coasts in the Atlantic with a total world population of 600 to 650 animals. In Türkiye, the population is estimated to be around 100 individuals. In the Mediterranean, a few specimens are observed rarely along Algeria, Italy, Spain as well as in the Adriatic Sea. The biggest population exists in Greece in the world.
SAD-AFAG is thankful for Turkish Coast Guard Command and Gendarmery for immediate reporting of the pups found in the open coasts in Bozyazı town and near Kaş town respectively, which certainly played a crucial role for the survival of the pups during the initial stage. Ministry of Environment Mersin Provincial Directorate managers and staff also have acted in a responsible way for taking the Bozyazı pup from Mehmet Sarı, AFAG’s Aydıncık representative and transporting the pup towards west to meet rescue & rehab team on the half-way; Foça Municipality for handling the maintenance and repair of rehab unit and Izmir Greater Municipality for providing water & electricty of the rehab unit free of charge and the last but not least, artisanal fishermen of Foça for providing live fish for the pups.
SAD-AFAG AFBİKA (Mediterranean Monk Seal Information & Rescue Network) hot line 0533.488 5858
© 2010 SAD-AFAG
1- The pups in the monk seal rehab center in Foça.
2- Vet Avni Gök and Erkin Tonguç of SAD-AFAG having a force feeding session in the early days of rehab.
3- N. Ozan Veryeri preparing the fish for the pups in the kitchen of the Foca Monk Seal Rehab Unit. Good
quality fish first deboned and deskinned. Then it is minced in the mixer added with water to have fish
4- One of the pups drinking the fish porridge from the open cup.
5- Feeding the pups offering fish porridge in the cups as a novel technique developed by SAD-AFAG.
6- Vet. Avni Gök is feeding one of the pups (background) while O. Veryeri and E. Tonguç feeding the other pup
(foreground) separately. Note the relatively empty cups in this photo compared to the photo 5.
Locations of Kaş and Bozyazı where monk seal pups were found.