The Monk Seal that has been in the area of Porto Santo since the 10th of this month, in a completely unusual situation, might lead those responsible to transport it to the Desertas Islands, its natural habitat. The Seal has been named locally as Profeta, which is also the name that people from Porto Santo are known.
The first sighting happened on Wednesday, the 10th when, to the surprise of many, it appeared on the beach of the island of Porto Santo and to this day has not left the place.
Paulo Oliveira, from the Institute of Forests and Nature Conservation (IFCN), recognizes the unusual situation since the breeding came from the Desertas islands, and that it is practically in front of the island of Porto Santo in one of its first voyages of discovery.
The Seal that was born in November, is an animal that is autonomous and making its first exploration trips, and went there to stop on one of these trips and obviously found there some conditions that make it stay
The behaviour of the animal has been regular: it disappears at night to go hunting and feed, returning later in the morning to rest on the golden sand of the island of Porto Santo.
This presence forced the IFCN to build a safety zone for the animal that is currently being monitored by four nature watchers in addition to having already been observed by both a veterinarian and the biologist who belongs to the IFCN staff.
But Paulo Oliveira acknowledges that this is not an ideal situation for the welfare of the animal, and equates if the offspring does not go back to the Desertas Islands on its own, the IFCN itself may transport it to its natural habitat.
“There is such a possibility that if the animal voluntarily does not leave the place, it will be collected and taken to the [Deserted Islands] exactly where it was born. This is because we have an exact indication of where it was born, place which it will recognise and where it will be better and safer, “he said, although the animal at this age already weighs between 80 and 90 kilos.
The monk seal or, Monachus monachus, as it is known in the archipelago of Madeira, is the rarest seal in the world and a species considered in critical danger by the International Union for Conservation of nature. In Portugal, it occurs only in the archipelago of Madeira, more specifically in the Desertas Islands and the island of Madeira.
The extinct Service of the Natural Park of Madeira initiated a project for the conservation of the monk seal and its habitat in 1988, which led to the creation of the Protected Area of the Desertas Islands in 1990, which meanwhile, became the Nature Reserve in 1995.
On-site protection, monitoring and study of the seal, together with environmental education, have been the main strategies used to safeguard it.