The real adventure begins at last ! With the help of favorable winds, our faithful sailing boat took us in no time from Lefkas to our undisclosed destination in the Ionian Sea.
Unfortunately, we are not at liberty to indicate where the monk seals are. There is a real risk that with this information, tourist operators will begin sending too many boats with people eager to see the animals with their own eyes.
The truth is that this threatened marine mammal has been hunted to the brink of extinction, and therefore is fearful of man’s presence. Too much hassle can cause many problems, such as mother’s abandoning their pups, animals panicking or simply leaving the zone, never to be seen again.
It’s not a surprise that for the past decades, the remaining individuals have chosen secluded and hidden marine caves to rest and give birth. They certainly don’t enjoy all of this sudden attention.
That being said, there are currently sailing charters and tour operators that play a very important role in raising awareness about the monk seal’s dire situation. Even though the boats packed with snorkelers regularly come to this location, the owners ask the tourists not to approach the caves and stay in a well defined area for a short period of time. This ensures that the animals are not disturbed. We witnessed with our own eyes that with this sort of practice, the animals don’t seem to mind the presence of man. Hopefully, most of the tour operators will adopt these kinds of best practices, and not only with monk seals, but with all of the marine and terrestrial ecosystems.
Let’s all fight for better touristic future, with less impacts on the places we love to visit !
Now, back to our expedition: we were lucky to experience calm weather for our first day on location. This allowed us to start installing the autonomous monitoring system. We also spotted our first monk seals, and there seems to be more individuals than last year at the same period. It all looks very promising for the next few days.