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The monk seal is one of the planet’s most endangered mammals. Since 2011, the Prince Albert II Foundation has been funding a project to protect the species on the Greek island of Gyaros.

The monk seal once populated the entire Mediterranean Sea. Today, with less than 800 individuals worldwide, it is one of the ten species at critical risk of extinction. Fishing, deliberate slaughter and mass tourism have all contributed to the decline of the species.

Since 2013, the Prince Albert II Foundation has supported a project to protect the Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus) on the island of Gyaros. The Greek island had 70 seals, the largest concentration of the species in the Mediterranean.

The project involved establishing a marine protected area in partnership with the WWF, Tethys Research Institute and MOm.

© DR
© Kent Backman

“A huge effort to raise the awareness of local people, fishermen and the tourism industry was carried out,” says Auriane Pertuisot, who manages marine projects at the Prince Albert II Foundation.

In total, more than 900,000 people were contacted.


To monitor the area, radars and a video surveillance system have been put in place in conjunction with the coastguards.

The results of this detailed and ambitious work speak for themselves: the last count recorded 87 monk seals within the protected area, with around nine births per year.

Other projects to protect monk seals are set to be introduced in Turkey, Madeira and Mauritania.


© Paulo Maurin
© MarkSullivan

In April 2019, the Prince Albert II Foundation launched the Monk Seal Alliance, which aims to bring together experts and financiers to expand the scope of actions taken by monk seal conservation specialists in the field.

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Fondation Prince Albert II de Monaco

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