Monk seal watching guidelines

The Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus) is one of the world’s most endangered marine mammals. These beautiful animals are particularly sensitive to human disturbance. If you ever come across any of them, you should follow these very basic guidelines.

In addition to follow the guidelines below in order to minimize any adverse impact that your presence my cause to the Mediterranean monk seal, you can help us gather valuable information by reporting your monk seal sighting.

Stay back 30 metres from seals

Move away cautiously if the animals show signs of disturbance (sudden change in behaviour)

Avoid making noise in the presence of a seal on land and if at sea put your engine in neutral

Refrain from feeding, touching, or swimming with monk seals, and KEEP PETS AT A DISTANCE, as they might be carriers of dangerous diseases to the seal

Teach others to be MONK SEAL SMART

Mediteranean monk seal watching guidelines infographic

Guidelines adopted from MOm

Be Monk Seal SMART; different situations require different precautionary measures

If you encounter a seal in:

WATER -> Do not panic, do not make sudden movements, do not try to approach the seal and always respect its space. NEVER aim at the seal with a spear gun – monk seals are docile animals but might become aggressive, like any other wild animal, if they feel threatened. Remember that seals are highly mobile in the water and their vision and hearing are far superior to ours. Respect the seals’ need for space and adhere to the recommended safety distances in order to admire this magnificent marine mammal in peace

MARINE CAVE -> Do not panic and do not try to enter further into the cave, where a mother with her newborn pup might be resting. Try to move slowly away, by swimming close to the walls of the cave and without blocking its exit. Always remember that monk seals in the water and in marine caves are in their natural environment, and that they most likely do not want to be disturbed.

ON LAND -> Monk seals come often on land to rest, especially during their moulting period. However, in some cases, an animal might still require assistance, particularly if it is sick or injured. Remain vigilant and observe the behaviour of the animal from a safe distance without disturbing it to see if there are any signs of injury or distress

Monk seal guidelines adapted from ©MOm