Seals are marine mammals, such as whales, dolphins, porpoises, walruses, manatees, or polar bears. A quarter of marine mammals are threatened. In the Mediterranean, a species of seal, the Mediterranean monk seal, is threatened with extinction according to the criteria of the Red List of the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature).
It should be noted that not all the seals in the world are in danger of extinction. In fact, populations of some species are increasing, such as the gray seal. What is widespread is the destruction of the habitat where these animals live, something that should be remedied without further delay.
Causes of the extinction of seals
One of the biggest problems for seals is oil spills . If there is a spill, volunteers collect the spotted seals and clean them up as soon as possible, as their lives are in danger. Afterwards, they keep them away from the place until the ecosystem is healthy enough for them.
Other threats to seals are:
- Fishing nets, where they become entangled and trapped
- Noise pollution from military or seismographic sonar
- The blows with the boats
- The water contamination
- Loss of habitats due to coastal development
- Loss of prey or other food sources due to mismanagement of the fishing industries
- Intensive hunting
- The effects of climate change.
A kind of difficult recovery
It must be taken into account that seals are difficult species to recover if they are lost because they only have one baby per year and it is estimated that 15% do not reach adulthood. Therefore, if the population is reduced, it is very difficult for it to increase again, even with programs that aim to recover the species.
Thus, the conservation of seals, more than any other species, has to be achieved with prevention and with the conservation of their habitats . The Mediterranean monk seal is a clear example of this. It lives on the coast of Africa and it is estimated that only half a thousand individuals survive. More than two thirds died from a virus in 1997. Since then, they have protected themselves and attempts are being made to recover the species, but it is not easy. The population increases very slowly. Some local communities hunt seals for their meat.
Some organizations are fighting to conserve the various species of seals that are distributed throughout the world. In addition, they carry out educational programs for schools with the aim of teaching young people the importance of conserving these animals.