Shambu's Wildshots
Mediterranean Monk Seal
Writer: Aditya Rao
Illustrator: Savio Mascarenhas

During Shambu’s Moroccan misadventures, Shambu took shelter in a mysterious undersea cave only to stumble upon a colony of Mediterranean monk seals. Here are some fun facts about them!

  • Adults can weigh 225-275 kg (as much as three to four adult humans) and are two to three metres m long (that’s as long as a standard motorbike).
  • Baby monk seals, or pups, are born with a black coat, which turns silvery-grey after a few weeks.
  • Adult seals have a smooth dark brown coat that resembles the robes worn by certain religious monks. That’s why they’re known as monk seals.
  • These seals have a lifespan of 20 to 30 years on average.
  • They can dive down to depths of 100 m below the surface of the sea and feed on a variety of fish and crustaceans. That’s almost as deep as London’s famous clock tower, Big Ben, is tall!
  • Ancient Greek philosophers and historians like Homer, Aristotle and Plutarch have written extensively about these gentle creatures.
  • The head of a monk seal was featured on one of the first coins minted in ancient Greece.
  • Monk seals were considered an omen of good fortune by fishermen and sailors.
  • Unfortunately, they became easy prey for hunters and fishermen because of their trusting nature. They have been hunted to the verge of extinction for their meat, oil and fur, and are now the rarest species of seals in the world, with less than 600 members left in the wild.
  • These seals used to be widespread in the Mediterranean Sea, the Black Sea and the coast of northwestern Africa. They are now scattered in isolated pockets of the Mediterranean Sea, with three main groups around the Portuguese island of Madeira, the coast of Mauritania and the Greek and Turkish coastlines.

See how the seals react to Shambu in Seal and Steal! in Tinkle 778 W4!

Britannica – Monk Seal
National Geographic
Marine Bio – Monachus
Monachus Guardian
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