Monk seal pup rescued in Aydıncık, Mersin, Türkiye

A monk seal pup was found on the beach of Aydıncık, a small town west of Mersin, on 5.11.2010 by locals, who reported the incident via our AFBIKA program (Mediterranean Seal Information & Rescue Network) to Mehmet Sarı, the SAD-AFAG representative in the region, at around 08:00 hours. The pup was observed closely on and off at the same location throughout the day. It wandered away, disappeared and returned to the beach on several occasions, though no mother could be observed. On 6.11.2010, the SAD-AFAG rescue team arrived at 07:50 to find the pup on the same beach. Its overall health was good, with no signs of dehydration or apparent physical injury.

The pup was estimated to be less than a month old, a physical examination revealing that no teeth had yet erupted. After the initial external examination, oral rehydration solution (ORS) was administered twice until noon.

The SAD-AFAG team decided its priority should be to find the breeding cave and re-unite the pup with its mother, rather than taking the animal into care. At the same time, the rescue and rehabilitation centre at Foça and SAD’s new rehabilitation centre in Gökova were alerted to prepare and be ready for a possible rehabilitation should the need arise.

By 15:00 it was 31 hours in total since the pup had been found on the beach. The SAD-AFAG team and fishermen discussed the geography of the area, including the locations of sea caves, and made a dive survey along the eastern coast of Aydıncık. With the support of the Coast Guard boat and a zodiac they reached the area from Taşucu. A very suitable cove was found with several crevices, reefs, cliffs and a breeding cave, in which apparent traces of an adult and a pup seal were found. At 16:50, approximately 33 hours after the seal was first found, the pup was transported to the site, around 1,5 n. mile from Aydıncık, with the help of the Coast Guard zodiac.

The pup remained in the cove, swam and dived smoothly, did not follow the zodiac and entered one of the crevices. The following night, the pup was not observed on Aydıncık’s open beach, but observed around the release site by a local line fisherman. In the early morning of the third day, at 05:30 hours, the SAD-AFAG team arrived at the cove, taking favourite lookout points on the cliff. At 06.20 an adult female seal appeared 300 m away from the cove and approached the cave and crevices underwater, swimming calmly but cautiously. She entered the crevice that the pup had entered the previous day, following its release. She investigated other crevices as well and faint cries were heard several times. It was concluded that the pup and mother had reunited. The SAD-AFAG team left the cove area by land and surveyed Aydıncık beach and other nearby coasts. By the end of the third day on 07.11.2010 the pup was not observed again along Aydıncık beach and vicinity. Following the SAD-AFAG team’s return to Ankara, the site was put under observation by Mehmet Sarı, an Aydıncık Aqua Products Board member and artisanal fisherman. The female seal is a new individual in Türkiye according to SAD-AFAG catalogue and was named as Serpil.

© 2010 SAD-AFAG Cem O. Kıraç and N. Ozan Veryeri