STAFF REPORTER

PALMA
SAILORS, divers and fishermen are being warned not to go near the rare monk seal that turned up in Majorcan waters last month.
A leaflet has been drawn up by the Balearic Department of the Environment advising that it is “very important” that the seal is not bothered.
The seal is believed to be one of less than 500 specimens that exist throughout the Mediterranean Sea - Greece, Turkey, Morocco and Algeria - and the Western Atlantic - Portugal, Morocco and Mauritania.

The leaflet, which has been published in four languages - Catalan, Spanish, German and English - explains that people who habitually use the sea, such as professional and recreational fishermen, divers and sailors, should advise the department or any nearby official if they spot the seal.

They can also ring 112 or the Marine Rescue Service.
The leaflet also points out that it is prohibited to approach the seal or remain within 100 metres of it.
If anyone spots the seal on land they are advised to immediately maintain their distance as this is when the animal is especially vulnerable.
The seal is three metres long, of a pale white colour with a round head and can be seen swimming or diving near the shore.
The department says that the leaflet has been published to inform people about the seal and to avoid a situation where “an avalanche of divers are trying to spot her”.

The department is warning that if the animal is molested she will feel threatened and “leave as quickly as she came”.

GOOD SIGN
The seal has been spotted a few times over the last month, which the department regards as a “good sign”.
It means that she has been able to find food. However, it has been a couple of weeks since the last sighting.
The monk seal is one of the top ten species in the world in danger of extinction
The last sighting of a monk seal in the Balearics before this current specimen arrived was in the 1950s.
The department hopes that if the seal remains it will be possible to begin a breeding programme.
A Palma diver was the first to spot the animal, which was later confirmed as a rare monk seal, on June 17 off the southern coast of Majorca.

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