© 2017 MOm/Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Monk Seal

Background - ©Frédéric Larrey/Thomas Roger

ACHIEVEMENTS

In 2013, MOm celebrated its 25th anniversary. Since 1988, MOm has been a tireless campaigner for the survival of the critically endangered Mediterranean monk seal and its habitats in Greece. Over the past 25 years, MOm has celebrated some important successes:

• In 1990, MOm established the first Monk seal Rehabilitation and Reintroduction Center at the island of Alonissos. It is the only specialized Rehabilitation Center for Mediterranean monk seals in the Mediterranean Sea.

• In 1991, ΜΟm established the Hellenic Monk Seal Rescue and Information Network (RINT) in order to collect and evaluate information of monk seal sightings from throughout Greece. The Network has currently more than 2,000 members and has registered more than 4,500 monk seal sightings.

• Following long and strenuous efforts by MOm and other private and public bodies, the National Marine Park of Alonissos, Northern Sporades was established in 1992. This was the first marine protected area in Greece dedicated to the protection of the critically endangered Mediterranean monk seal.

• From 2001 – 2004, MOm carried out the European LIFE ‐ Nature project “The Monk Seal: Conservation actions in two Greek NATURA 2000 sites”. As a result, the Management body of the marine protected area in Northern Karpathos and Saria was established.

• From 2005 – 2009, MOm carried out the European project LIFE ‐ Nature “Monk Seals & Fisheries: Mitigating the Conflict in the Greek Seas” (MOFI). This project attempted to provide for the first time viable solutions that would reduce the negative interactions between monk seals and coastal fishermen in Greece. The concrete solutions proposed during the project have become part of an Action Plan that has been made available to the competent national and international authorities.

• Since 1988, the research team of MOm has played a leading role in the study of the biology, ecology and behavior of the critically endangered Mediterranean monk seal. As a result, more than 35 articles in peer-reviewed, scientific journals have been published.

• The research team of MOm was the first in the Mediterranean Sea to systematically use automatic and remote-controlled monitoring systems to study the cryptic behavior of Mediterranean monk seals in their inaccessible marine caves. Researchers of MOm were the first ones in the Mediterranean Sea to capture on camera the birth of a monk seal pup.

• MOm has established the Mediterranean Monk Seal Sample Bank, a unique biological collection with more than 2,000 tissue samples from more than 140 individual monk seals.

• Data and scientific information collected by MOm has been made available to national and international authorities and used in the selection and inclusion of important areas for the Mediterranean monk seal to the List of the most important ecological areas in Europe.

• In 2007, MOm scientists discovered the most important monk seal colony in the eastern Mediterranean Sea at the island of Gyaros. Following the rapid publication of the results of the first monitoring efforts in the area, MOm has moved on to set the foundations for the creation at the island of Gyaros of a model marine protected area for the species in the Aegean , in co-operation with the national authorities.

• Since its establishment, MOm has operated information stands and Centers at the islands of Alonissos, Skopelos, Skiathos, Milos, Kimolos, Syros, Fournoi, and Karpathos and in the prefecture of Attica. More than half a million visitors have been informed about the critically endangered status of the Mediterranean monk seal and the consistent efforts by MOm to save the species.

• More than 260,000 school children have participated in the environmental education programs of MOm in Greece. Many of these school children are now active citizens who contribute each one in his or her way, to the protection of the critically endangered Mediterranean monk seal and the marine biodiversity of Greece.

25 years of continuous efforts to save the Mediterranean monk seal … and still counting!