First Observations of Parturition and Postpartum Behavior in the Mediterranean Monk Seal (Monachus monachus) in the Eastern Mediterranean

Abstract: Understanding reproductive behavior, especially the circumstances surrounding parturition and the events following the first days postpartum, is essential in developing effective conservation strategies for endangered pinnipeds. In the case of the critically endangered Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus), difficulties in documenting events such as parturition are compounded by the very low population numbers and the inaccessibility of the habitat occupied by the species. In this study, the authors report the first observations of parturition for the species from the central Aegean Sea, Greece, in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Using a state-of-the-art infrared remote-monitoring system, two births were documented, and important information on the total duration of the events; the total duration of attempted suck-ling; as well as information on the presentation of the pups, their sex, and habitat were recorded. This new information on the reproductive biology of the species in this part of its range outline the importance of suitable reproductive caves for the conservation of the species and the urgency of protecting them. In addition, considering the high cost and logistics of the study, monitoring the species on a large scale to effectively protect it will require the development of new, low-cost, and time-efficient methodologies.

Key Words: Mediterranean monk seal, Monachus monachus, conservation, endangered species, Greece, non-invasive monitoring, parturition

Document Type: Research article

DOI: 10.1578/AM.36.1.2010.27

Page Numbers: 27-32

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