03 August 2013

Monk seal sighted from coast

On July 26th we casually stopped near a beach in Eretria, in the Southern Evoikos Gulf (Greece) and spotted a Mediterranean monk seal Monachus monachus that was swimming some 30-40 m off the coast.

The animal performed repeated dives around an anchored speedboat, while a few ladies were floating in nearby waters to escape the summer heat. The ladies did not notice, but a few people on the beach saw us taking photos, spotted the seal, and stood there to watch. There was no animosity or particular excitement, as if observing a Critically Endangered large marine mammal swimming among bathers was a normal occurrence.

Our observation lasted about 30 minutes, between 18:35 and 19:10. When we left the seal was still performing the same behaviour, i.e. surfacing quietly and diving around the same speedboat. Too bad we did not have our boat, or any means of obtaining closer photos. The ones above were taken from the beach with a 200 mm lens.

The sighting position is 38˚23'30''N 23˚47'09''E.

(Photos by G. Bearzi, July 2013)

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