World’s rarest seal finds refuge on notorious prison island
After decades of hunting, Mediterranean monk seals now have a sanctuary on the “Alcatraz of Greece.” But will it be enough to prevent their extinction?
Gyaros, GreeceThe glossy gray pup scours the rocks under the Aegean Sea for octopus, surfacing occasionally with graceless splashes. Like an excitable marine Labrador retriever, he chases schools of small fry in circles, only relenting when juicier offerings catch his eye.
Finally, worn out or just full of fish, the young Mediterranean monk seal eventually hunkers down on a rock ledge, stretching out under the February sun.
As carefree as the pup appears, its species is mired in a fight for survival. The rarest of the 33 species of pinniped, the seal’s numbers hover around 600 animals in the wild—a precarious population that could very easily follow the Caribbean monk seal into extinction. The only other remaining species of living monk