Unsolved Seal Murder in Bodrum Yalıkavak

Muammer Aşan, the director of Sporkent 1 Building Complex and Üstün Mavi, care-taker of the site saw a corpse on the sea in the Yalıkavak Kızılburun region, coast of in Bodrum Peninsula on the date of April 21, 2010 while walking around the site and realized it belongs to a Mediterranean Monk Seal and pulled the corpse with own means to the beach.  They called immediately Yalıkavak Municipality and SAD-AFAG representative veterinarian Fulya Massozi.  Fulya Massozi contacted with SAD-AFAG AFBIKA team and she arrived in the area around 19:00 PM with the corporation of Yalıkavak Municipality and performed first examination on the death seal together with municipality constabulary officers in the beach.  Afterwards seal corpse carried to Yalıkavak center with municipality vehicle to make further examinations.

In consequence of the necropsy performed in veterinary clinic in Yalıkavak, it’s determined that seal is shot by three firearms  in the right shoulder, multiple ribs and it right shoulder bone are broken, large blood accumulation occurs in chest cavity and internal bleeding cause the death. One rifle bullet and many small sized pellets found in the inner parts of the seal in the detailed examinations within necropsy. In other words, it’s understood that seal was shot several times before it’s found,  probably in different places, and shot by small pellets apart from the shot (rifle bullet) cause the death of seal.

Mediterranean monk seal shot intentionally in the sea- likely from a boat- was a pubescent (the period before becoming an adult) member and had around 150 kg weight. Fulya Massozi, Yalıkavak representative of SAD-AFAG, indicate that the seal was a very healthy member of its kind and doesn’t found any other diseases.

According to the national legislation, Mediterranean monk seals are among strictly protected species and shooting has 10.000 TL fine. However SAD-AFAG, carrying non-stop studies on Mediterranean monk seals and their habitats since 1987, hasn’t witnessed any incidents that Mediterranean monk seal murderers are caught or anybody punished for these actions in Turkey. Although Mediterranean monk seals are under protection with Bern and Barcelona Conventions concerning also Turkey as a party with all protocols, any effective precautions couldn’t been taken against the intentional murdering incidents. The ideal solution to reduce such deliberate killings is to develop sustainable fishery policies based on scientific studies, assure implementation and control of illegal trawl, purse-seiners, spear fishing, dynamite fishing and basket fishing instead of making searches for the shooters. Deliberate killing of seals will be decreased in case of rivalry among the coastal fishermen and monk seal as a result of the increase in fish stocks in the seas.

The primary reason causing extinction of Mediterranean monk seal is actually coastal development. Concreted coasts and coastal roads are primary elements that prevent breeding of monk seals by destroying their homes, natural coastal habitats. These rare marine mammals living dependently on the coasts- resting, breeding and raising and feedings its puppies in the caves, certainly need scarce and intact coasts and coastal caves. Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Environmental Protection Agency for Special Areas, Ministry of Public Works, Ministry of Culture and Tourism and Municipalities have to consider this factor carrying coastal plans and constructional works. Additionally it’s definite that coastal constructions and new road opening works are undeniable causes of irreversible coastal losses and natural area destructions. SAD-AFAG and National Monk Seal Comity is ready to provide most actual and accurate data to planners in case of  consultancy is required about coastal development planning including new road planning.

© 2010 SAD-AFAG C.O.Kıraç