The Mediterranean monk seal, a rare marine mammal, has made a remarkable comeback in Cyprus, marking a significant milestone for its conservation.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development, and Environment in Cyprus expressed great satisfaction as the breeding season of 2023 welcomed the arrival of two new monk seals to the island's shores, increasing the estimated population to 22 individuals.

This achievement signifies a notable rise from the mere 12 recorded a few years ago.

The births took place in the Akrotiri and Akamas/Chalavro regions, with the newborn seals named "Pieros" and "Arkadia." However, there was a tragic discovery of Arkadia found deceased on a beach in the Bay of Polis Chrysochous, pending autopsy results to determine the cause of death.

This successful breeding is pivotal for the species' survival in Cyprus, showcasing the effectiveness of local conservation efforts. The Cyprus Mediterranean Monk Seal Monitoring Team has meticulously documented the species' refuge locations along the island's coastlines.

Advanced monitoring technology allows continuous surveillance, with real-time observation enabled at one refuge. Data collection efforts are focused on understanding behaviours such as reproductive patterns and health to aid conservation strategies.

The vulnerability of monk seal pups during early life stages underscores the need for safeguarding their breeding refuges. Measures such as marine protected areas around key sites and land expropriation near critical habitats are being implemented to mitigate human interference.

These efforts align with recommendations from Dr. Panagiotis Dendrinos, a leading expert in monk seal conservation, who advocates for protective measures to preserve their habitats.

Sightings of monk seals are frequent in areas such as marine caves, beaches, and fishing refuges across Cyprus, highlighting the importance of these locations for their survival.

Overall, the concerted efforts aim to ensure the continued recovery and thriving population of the Mediterranean monk seal in Cyprus.