Farewell, Caribbean monk seal

In a move that will come as no surprise to pinnipedalists (those who pedal seals and sea lions), the Caribbean monk seal Monachus tropicalis has been declared officially extinct. It hasn't been seen in the wild for over 50 years, and the US National Marine Fisheries Service declared them extinct on Friday. This is sad, of course, but they were extinguished (by human hunting) before very many people cared about them. They had been declared extinct in 194, but the Fisheries Service is influential (and, it seems, very conservative). Two other monk seals, the Mediterranean and the Hawaiian are also at risk due to degradation of their habitat.

i-2679e6fe29719d3ab54f594c340ee93e-infcarseal.jpgFated seal. The only known photograph of a Caribbean monk seal – taken at Bronx Zoo in 1909. The species was formally declared extinct in 1996. From here

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A sad day for pinnipedophiles everywhere.

Ave atque vale.
The black and white reminds me of the final images of the Thylacine.

By Brian English (not verified) on 08 Jun 2008 #permalink

"Pinnipeddlers", maybe? "Pedal" just brings to mind using seals as pedalboats, which isn't likely what you mean. Maybe there's some other usage I don't know....

Sad news, at any rate, though I can't decide if it's worse or better that the damage was done scores of years ago, when we were (presumably) more ignorant. We'll see how much better we do protecting the other monk seals.

One of the articles said,

Just two other monk seal species remain: Hawaiian and Mediterranean monk seals, both of which are endangered and at risk of extinction. Populations have fallen to below 1,200 and 500 individuals, respectively, the fisheries service stated.

What I don't understand is, if biologists have such accurate population statistics for the other monk seals, then why did it take biologists so long to determine that the Caribbean monk seal is extinct?

Also, the article said that the seal is known only by drawings, but you show a photograph. See --


Declared extinct in 194? Is that 194 BCE, or 194 Kelvin, or what?

As for pinnipeds, we've got loads of extras here in the North American Pacific Northwest, largely California sea lions. Anyone want any? They done et all our salmon, so if you have any left, I'm sure they'd like some.

By Josh Hayes (not verified) on 09 Jun 2008 #permalink