Two monk seal pups to be released

After having a rehab period of total 105 days, i.e. 3,5 months, two monk seal pups to be released on 2nd April 2011 along the pristine and remote coasts between Gazipaşa (Antalya) and Anamur (Mersin). The release area is among the 17 Important Monk Seal Sites in Türkiye as also accepted by National Monk Seal Committee member organizations coordinated by Turkish Ministry of Environment & Forest. The release shall be jointly realized by Ministry of Environment & Forest and its Izmir Province Directorate, Turkish Coast Guard and SAD-AFAG.

Two pups have been under rehabilitation and care in Foça Med.Monk Seal Rehab Center since 18th December 2010, operated in cooperation by Foça Municipality, İzmir Greater Municipality and SAD-AFAG. The general health conditions of the seals are good and they do not have any sicknesses or abnormality. Blood and feace sampling as well as nostril secretion samples were taken by the vets from the veterinary policlinic in İzmir on 31st March 2011 accompanied by EPASA staff and SAD-AFAG team and the results have shown that the seal pups do not have sickness symptoms. Rehab team has shown special attention not to get in touch or interaction with seal pups during feeding and cleaning sessions in the facility. As a result, the seals always keep distance to the carers and even remain away from the carers either hiding inside the “artificial cavern” in the unit or diving in the pool staying long inside. The pups have been observed by the team members from a hide established outside the unit with small openings looking inside the pool. Also the staff veterinery from Izmir Province Directorate of Environment & Forest visited the unit several time and made observations together with EPASA’s staff including a biologist and Ozan Veryeri from SAD-AFAG, who concluded that overall impression related to the behavior of the monk seal pups are healthy, i.e. showing apparent shy behavior towards the carers.

Meanwhile, SAD-AFAG had some difficulty in between 19 February and 18 March due to the Veterinary in charge of the rehab task from Izmir Greater Municipality. During this blind period only the Vet had continued the feeding and cleaning of the unit. Later, MoEF has issued an official letter to let SAD-AFAG take back the duty. The weighs of seal pups are 34 kg and 37 kg and lenghts are 128 cm and 135 cm respectively as of 1 April 2011 when the two pups were handed over again. The SAD-AFAG team has put all efforts to make seals gaining physical and behavioral capacity to adopt to nature. By the end of March 2011, the rehab team has concluded that seals have reached desired minimum level of rehab to be released back to wild life, referring their ability of hunting behaviour on various species and condition of health for adaptation to natural life. The release is planned to be realized on 2nd April 2011 with consensus of National Monk Seal Committee upon proposal made by SAD-AFAG.


 © Cem Orkun Kıraç and Nesimi Ozan Veryeri, 2011 SAD-AFAG