Seal Rescue and Rehabilitation Activities

Dead, sick, injured and orphaned Mediterranean monk seals have been watched along Turkish coasts by SAD-AFAG through our specialized coastal network called AFBIKA “Mediterranean Seal Information & Rescue Network” created in 2003.

SAD-AFAG gives support of necropsy to dead seals in several coastal locations with help of Vets or competent people. For the injured, sick  and orphaned seals, care service is given either in-situ or ex-situ (in the Foça Seal Rehabilitation Center).

Therefore; the Rescue & Rehab studies undertaken by SAD-AFAG can be grouped under two categories:
1- Necropsy for seals stranded dead or died
2- Rescue and rehabilitation of sick, injured or orphaned seals

2- Rescued and Rehabilitated Seals :

Since its foundation, AFAG has managed emergency aid and also managed to save  for seven Mediterranean monk seal individuals and released them back to nature successfully.

  • Yeşim  young female seal. Found in sick and ailing condition. In-situ care & treatment made and released back to sea: Aliağa, İzmir in 2004
  • Badem  pup female seal. Found in Didim, Aydın. Cared in Foça, İzmir.  Reintroduced in Datça, Muğla. 2007
  • Dilara and Tina. Female pups who were found orphaned. After rescue, rehabilitated the pups ex-situ in Foça Monk Seal Rehab Center. 2010
  • Uzay. Pup monk seal found in an open beach in Aydincik. Observed, cared and treated in the site and let him back to its breeding habitat. Mother and pup met in the next day. 2011
  • Alanya. Adult female who was found sick an an ailing condition. Rescued and rehabilitated sick seal and released back to nature in Alanya, Antalya. 2013.
  • Mira. 1-5 days old pup monk seal. Found in open beach in Özdemir, İzmir and after initial care, released back to its breeding habitat nearby. Pup was met with the mother in a short period of time. 2013.

On 22 April 2004  a seal whose mobility was limited found in Çandarlı Bay. The seal was very weak, and unable to dive, she hardly act floating on the sea surface and she was finally stranded ashore. The seal was brought to the coast in order to prevent her loss of body heat and  she was supervised to make her have a rest by SAD-AFAG Foça Project Office members Yalçın, Harun and Ayhan together with Foça Municipality Vet. Avni Gök.

It was ascertained according to the observations made by the SAD-AFAG Foça team Yalçın and Harun and from Foça Municipality vet Avni Gök that the seal was a young female; in her eyes, nose and mouth there was some irritation and also there was pitch on her skin. According to the research and information findings; she was assumed that the seal passed into an irritating thing in the sea so that the irritation came into being in her soft tissues such as her mouth, nose and eyes. Probably the same irritation was seen along with her digestive system. As the blood- letting did not occur, bacteriologic analysis wasn’t done. On the other hand; as there was no increase in body temperature, it was supposed that there wasn’t any infection. With the energy that sprang from resting in the coast, the seal was hardly controlled as she was looking forward to returning to the sea.  Finally, in accordance with the competent vets’ decision from the Netherlands (SRRC) and Greece, the seal was injected antibiotics and eye cream as a cure. After the treatment the seal returned to the sea.On 23 April, during the research, no afore-mentioned seal was come across with. It was surmised that the seal died and went into the bottom of the sea or due to the healing she changed her place

Initial warning, first medical response, her rescue and rehabilitation and reintroduction all were successfully completed with the support of  the institutions, organizations below :

SAD-AFAG and Coast Guard Command
Mustafa KOÇ and his family  / businessman
Foça Municipality
Seal Rescue and Rehabilitation Center (SRRC- The Netherlands)
SunSail Club Phokaia
Didim Municipality

On 05 December 2006,  early in the morning  Ahmet Çelik from the Mavişehir district in Didim, saw a seal swimming at the coast. After an hour, the seal got out of  the sea and came to the beach. Although she was sent to the sea several times, the seal insistently returned back to the land. Ahmet Çelik immediately called Coast Guard Command and inquired help.

Coast Guard Command -the member of AFBIKA (Mediterranean Monk Seal Information and Rescue Network) managed by SAD-AFAG and Dokuz Eylül University Institute of Marine Sciences (DEU-DBTE) transferred this info to Yalçın Savaş and Cem Kıraç from SAD-AFAG via AFBIKA hot line.

Then, this information was forwarded to Didim Municipality, mayor and the vet. explaining what to do.   Just after informed by Coast Guard  Command,  SAD-AFAG got into contact with  Didim Municipality vet and he learned that the doctor was with the seal, that it was a pup and that although the seal was released to the sea many times, she returned to the land at every time.  Yalçın Savaş warned the people not to touch the pup and to keep away from her until SAD team arrived. Moreover, he wanted the seal to be supervised in terms of the existence of an adult seal and warned the people who were around the seal against the danger of the mother seal’s arrival for her child.

The AFBIKA team consisting of Dr. Harun Güçlüsoy (SAD-AFAG and DEU-DBTE), Vet Avni GÖK (Foça Municipality), Ayhan Tonguç (SAD-AFAG) completed their preparation in case of the worst probable circumstance,  and reached the pup in Didim Mavişehir  at 17:30.

In the preliminary research of the seal, it was conceived that  the pup was approximately 1.5 months, 10 kg thinner than the normal one, sufferred from  overly dehydration and she didn’t forage for  5-7 days. As a result, SAD-AFAG team members provided the primary life support for her.