Around 4 - 5 Mediterranean Monk seals were spotted a few days ago in the area of Ayia Napa, bringing the total number to 19 throughout Cyprus. Speaking to CNA, the Officer of the Fisheries Department Melina Markou noted that this time of the year is the period when monk seals reproduce and she appealed to citizens not to disturb them during this critical time.
“This period is very important for the Monk seals since it is the period when they reproduce and they need quiet. It is important that citizens do not go to the area where the seals are located because this may disturb them," she said, noting that some people were observed visiting the rocky area to take photos and videos.
She continued, "seals need seclusion and a suitable place to give birth. If they feel threatened in any way, they will leave the area and find another place that may not be as adequate."
When baby seals are born they depend on their mother both for food and safety. They do not know how to swim and are breastfed for a period of time. Mother seals are known to abandon their babies should they feel threatened, leaving their pups to fend for themselves. But in most cases, these pups die of starvation or drown.
According to Ms. Markou, "Since 2011 we have noticed that the Mediterranean seal reproduces almost annually. This can only be sustained if we allow the seals a safe space and the privacy they need to give birth."
The Cyprus Department of Fisheries has installed cameras in the local Ayia Napa caves in order to monitor the breeding and migration of Monk seals in Cyprus. They also called on local fishermen to be aware of the growing numbers in order to avoid accidentally catching a baby seal in their nets, something that has happened time and again in Greece.