Efforts to Protect the Critically Endangered Monk Seal

Monk seals -- the only completely tropical species of seal in the world -- are in trouble. Centuries of human exploitation and habitat destruction have caused the remaining populations of Mediterranean monk seals (Monachus monachus) and Hawaiian monk seals (Monachus schauinslandi) to drop to perilously low numbers, while the Caribbean monk seal (Monachus tropicalis) has become extinct.

Working from opposite sides of the world, scientists from Greece and the U.S. are in a race against time to save the remaining monk seals. Hear about their work in this webcast, recorded on Tuesday, June 21, 2011 at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

Dr. Alexandros Karamanlidis discuss his organization's efforts to research the Mediterranean monk seals. Karamanlidis is the scientific coordinator for the MOm/Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Monk Seal. It's a non-profit organization with more than 20 years of experience in the research and conservation of Mediterranean monk seals in Greece and abroad.

Researchers at MOm have gained rare insights in the biology and behavior of the Mediterranean monk seal, including recent innovative technology that has enabled the seals to be monitored remotely inside their breeding caves. In this webcast, Karamanlidis shares rare footage of a baby monk seal being born in the wild. His organization's current and future collaborations with U.S. scientists studying Hawaiian monk seals will provide important insights into new ways to help the two remaining species of monk seals survive into the future.

Read more about the biology, range, and status of the Hawaiian and Mediterranean monk seals on NOAA's Office of Protected Resources Website, and see data of monk seal activity on an interactive map developed by NOAA and the Monk Seal Research Program.