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Mediterranean monk seals are primarily found in the eastern Mediterranean and the northeast Atlantic region off northwest Africa. Over the past two decades, sightings of the species have increased in areas far from the eastern population, such as the Adriatic Sea (Albania, Croatia, and Italy), and in southeastern part of the basin (Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Libya, Egypt).

In December 2019, SPA/RAC hosted a workshop during the World Marine Mammals Conference (WMMC19, Barcelona, Spain) to assess national knowledge gaps and the feasibility of implementing monitoring programs for the species, based on updated information from each country.

Following that, the Monk Seal Alliance (MSA) supported SPA/RAC to implement the project "Med Monk Seal: Enhancing knowledge and awareness of monk seal conservation in the Mediterranean” aimed at filling these gaps and facilitating knowledge transfer in regions where monk seal presence is increasing. Its goal is to strengthen capacity and awareness in Group B and C countries (Algeria, Egypt, Italy, Libya, Morocco, Syria, and Tunisia), aligning with the regional strategy for Mediterranean monk seal conservation and the guidelines of IMAP and the ecosystem approach.

Through training sessions, expertise sharing, and provision of scientific equipment, scientists from southern and eastern Mediterranean countries are being equipped to monitor the species and engage with local communities and fishers.

In September 2023, SPA/RAC partnered with Archipelagos NGO (Greece and Italy) to organize a regional monitoring training workshop in Sami, Greece, which was attended by twenty participants. The workshop provided them with skills to conduct sea cave surveys to identify potential seal habitats and to conduct monitoring activities, addressing key topic such as sightings recording, camera-traps functioning, photo-Identification and data validation.

Thanks to this support, beneficiary countries have begun collecting data that will inform enhanced management measures for the protection of the species.

Check out our video showcasing the workshop held in Sami, Greece:

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