The Mediterranean Monk Seal and Other Endangered Marine Mammals. From Past to Future: Perspectives on Ecology, Biology, Monitoring, and Conservation

A special issue of Animals (ISSN 2076-2615). This special issue belongs to the section "Ecology and Conservation".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 December 2024 | Viewed by 3108

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Oceanographic Centre, Vigo, Spanish Oceanographic Institute—CSIC, Madrid, Spain
Interests: marine mammal conservation; trophic ecology; human impacts on marine mammals

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Guest Editor
1. Archipelagos - ambiente e sviluppo, Venezia, Italy
2. Department of Philosophy and Cultural Heritage, Ca’ Foscari University, Venice, Italy
Interests: the past and present distribution, population, habitat availability, conservation, monitoring, and photoidentification of the Mediterranean monk seal

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Guest Editor Assistant
IUCN Center for Mediterranean Cooperation, Málaga, Spain
Interests: nature; marine environment; endangered species; environment protection; reduction of threats in the natural environment

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues, 

Marine mammals are top predators in the ocean's ecological systems.

With several species having reached alarmingly low population levels over time due to human action, understanding the past and present roles of endangered species in oceanic systems is essential to aid in our comprehension and definition of these species, and in the application of adequate conservation measures.

Therefore, efforts must be made to preserve and restore our planet's natural equilibrium, which is approaching crisis level.

The application of specific measures to protect umbrella species of marine mammals can benefit the entire ecosystem. As charismatic species, they can motivate citizens and stakeholders to promote policies and environmental measures to protect the species and their ecosystems.

This Special Issue focuses on one of the most endangered and poorly understood pinniped species: the Mediterranean monk seal Monachus monachus. We aim to provide information on its ecology, biology, past and present populations, and methodologies for its study and conservation.

In addition, this issue aims to compile information from other endangered marine mammal species, with papers highlighting problems, research, analyses, and solutions applicable to them all despite their differences.

Given the time pressure to undertake appropriate marine mammal conservation, it is necessary to merge current scientific research on these species. This Special Issue aims to amalgamate this information, and we encourage interested authors to submit research on the proposed themes.

Dr. Gema Hernandez-Milian
Dr. Luigi Bundone
Guest Editors

Mercedes Muñoz-Cañas
Guest Editor Assistant

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Keywords

  • endangered species
  • marine ecosystems
  • marine mammals
  • monk seal
  • monitoring
  • conservation
  • biology
  • ecology
  • population dynamics

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

13 pages, 10274 KiB  
Communication
Preliminary Ultrasonographic Study of Healthy California Sea Lion (Zalophus californianus) Pregnancy and Fetal Development
by Letizia Fiorucci, Francesco Grande, Roberto Macrelli and Pietro Saviano
Animals 2024, 14(9), 1384; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14091384 - 5 May 2024
Viewed by 553
Abstract
Reproductive success is an important aspect of marine mammals’ population health, as it is an indicator of the trajectory for the population into the future. The aim of this study is to provide additional relevant data on fetus–maternal ultrasonographic monitoring in sea lion [...] Read more.
Reproductive success is an important aspect of marine mammals’ population health, as it is an indicator of the trajectory for the population into the future. The aim of this study is to provide additional relevant data on fetus–maternal ultrasonographic monitoring in sea lion species, in order to evaluate possible fetal distress or abnormalities. From 2018 to 2023, serial ultrasonographic scans of two healthy California sea lion females (16 ± 4 years old), kept under human care, were performed over the course of two pregnancies for each female. Animals were monitored from the ovulation to the delivery. Ultrasonography was performed weekly, and, during the last month, daily images were recorded using Logiq Versana Active, General Electric, with a 2–5 MHz curvilinear transducer, and Logiq V2, General Electric, with a 2–5 MHz curvilinear transducer. Right and left lateral recumbencies have been used during the examination. To the author’s knowledge, this is the first study describing in detail the sea lion organogenesis and their correlation with the stage of pregnancy. Full article
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22 pages, 13212 KiB  
Article
Ten Years of Mediterranean Monk Seal Stranding Records in Greece under the Microscope: What Do the Data Suggest?
by Maria Solanou, Aliki Panou, Irida Maina, Stefanos Kavadas and Marianna Giannoulaki
Animals 2024, 14(9), 1309; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14091309 - 26 Apr 2024
Viewed by 507
Abstract
This paper presents the results of an analysis of stranding events of the Mediterranean monk seal Monachus monachus over a decade. The analysis involved categorization according to the cause of stranding and seasonality, the identification of hotspot stranding areas and an assessment of [...] Read more.
This paper presents the results of an analysis of stranding events of the Mediterranean monk seal Monachus monachus over a decade. The analysis involved categorization according to the cause of stranding and seasonality, the identification of hotspot stranding areas and an assessment of possible correlations between stranding events and environmental/climatic patterns using time series analysis. Moreover, Generalized Additive Models (GAMs) were applied to explore the effects of the size of small-scale fishing grounds, the number of species sightings, and the occurrence of reproduction sites on “human-related” strandings. Finally, special focus was put on the central part of the eastern Ionian Sea for the assessment of stranding hotspot areas by means of the Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) approach, based on different kinds of spatial information such as anthropogenic pressures and the location of breeding sites and feeding grounds. Time series analysis results revealed that oscillation indices, during the first half of the year, and sea surface temperature (SST) in the Mediterranean from October to December were positively correlated with monk seal stranding events. GAMs underlined that areas combining extended small-scale fishery grounds and a higher number of sightings were more likely to cause more strandings. Regarding spatial analyses, the central Aegean Sea was highlighted as a hotspot for “human-related strandings”, while the MCDA approach emphasized that the southern coasts of Cephalonia and the gulf between Lefkada and mainland Greece were susceptible to subadult strandings. Full article
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16 pages, 2270 KiB  
Article
Understanding the Interactions between Small-Scale Fisheries and the Mediterranean Monk Seal Using Fishermen’s Ecological Knowledge
by Marios Papageorgiou, Anastasis Karonias, Athena Eftychiou and Louis Hadjioannou
Animals 2023, 13(13), 2164; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13132164 - 30 Jun 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1431
Abstract
Interactions between fisheries and marine mammals have been well documented in almost all existing fishing gears around the world, often associated with detrimental consequences. Interactions of the endangered Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus) with small-scale fisheries have been previously documented in [...] Read more.
Interactions between fisheries and marine mammals have been well documented in almost all existing fishing gears around the world, often associated with detrimental consequences. Interactions of the endangered Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus) with small-scale fisheries have been previously documented in the Mediterranean; this is a problem that seems to be growing in recent years. The present study aims to understand for the first time the nature and extent of interactions between the Mediterranean monk seal and small-scale fisheries in the Republic of Cyprus. The data were collected by conducting in-person semi-structured interviews, between November and December 2020, with 90 fishermen operating from nine different ports, extending throughout the entire coastline of the Republic of Cyprus. The results revealed minimal interactions between the Mediterranean monk seals and small-scale fisheries. The findings indicate that interactions are more likely to occur at depths of less than 10 m, closer to the coast, with the use of trammel nets and gillnets, and during the spring and summer months. The encounter, depredation and incidental capture rates were calculated at 0.01 (0.95%), 0.005 (0.51%) and 0.0004 (0.04%) per fisher, respectively. Spatiotemporal closed areas are proposed as a potential solution to mitigate these interactions. Full article
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