(CRITICALLY ENDANGERED)Mediterranean Monk Seal

The Mediterranean Monk Seal (Monachus monachus) is believed to be the world’s rarest pinniped and one of the most endangered mammals of the world.

This species of monk seal grows from approximately 80 cm long at birth to an average of 2.40 m in adults. The latter weigh up to 320 kg, the females being slightly smaller than the males. Their fur is black (males) or brown to dark grey (females) with a paler belly which is close to white in males. Pups are mostly born in autumn, entering the water two weeks afterwards, and are weaned at around 18 weeks of age. They are born with black natal fur, often with a white patch beneath. The shape of these patches can be used to identify individuals. Reproductive maturity is reached at around age four, and maximum age is over twenty years. Pregnant Mediterranean Monk Seals typically use inaccessible undersea caves while giving birth, though historical descriptions show that they used open beaches until the eighteenth century.

The Mediterranean Monk Seals are diurnal and feed on fish and mollusks, primarily octopus, up to 3 kg per day.

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