Fisheries Service Declares Caribbean Monk Seal Extinct
On June 6, the National Marine Fisheries Service declared the Caribbean monk seal to be officially extinct.
“The fate of the Caribbean monk seal is a wake-up call for us to act quickly to protect other endangered monk seal populations. We must learn from our mistakes,” said Vicki Cornish, vice president of marine wildlife conservation at Ocean Conservancy. “We must act now to reduce threats to existing monk seal populations before it’s too late. These animals are important to the balance and health of the ocean – we can’t afford to wait.”
The Hawaiian monk seal is critically endangered, with a population of only 1,000 animals. Although there are many reasons for its decline, current threats include entanglement in discarded or lost fishing gear and rising sea levels due to climate change that threaten to erode critical land-based habitat where seals give birth, rest, and molt.