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Page last updated at 12:24 GMT, Monday, 7 March 2011
Critically endangered monk seal pup rescued
By Victoria Gill
Science and nature reporter, BBC News

Rescued Meditteranean monk seal pup, Nireas
The seal pup is recovering at a rehabilitation centre on the Greek island of Alonissos

Conservationists have rescued a two-month-old Mediterranean monk seal.

The species is the world's most endangered seal and one of the most endangered marine mammals.

This pup is one of just 600 animals that remain in the wild. The team plans to release it into a small monk seal colony in Greece.

Wildlife biologist Alexandros Karamanlidis said that the pup was very weak when the researchers found it, and that "rescue came at the last moment".

Vet hand-feeding the rescued Meditteranean monk seal (Image: Mom/ P Dendrinos)
Vets say the seal pup is gaining weight and recovering well

The animal, which has been named Nireas, is now recovering well.

The research team, from the Mom/Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Monk seal, spotted the pup on 7 February while monitoring a seal colony on an island in the south-western Aegean Sea.

"Two days later the pup started showing first signs of weakness, as it did not try to get at all in the water and did not react to human presence," the conservationists reported.

Dr Karamanlidis, the society's scientific co-ordinator, told BBC News that the animal was brought to a rehabilitation centre on the island of Alonissos.

"He had been separated from his mother and he was full of internal parasites," he said.

"Now he is gaining rapidly weight and, if everything goes according to plan, he will be released soon."

SEAL FACTS

The researchers say that the human activity has encroached into the seals' habitat and that this is pushing the animals from the beaches into caves.

This has increased the likelihood of newborn pups being swept out of caves by storm surges and becoming separated from their mothers.



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