The Mediterranean monk seal, scientifically known as Monachus monachus, is a fin-footed mammal. Due to marine dwelling nature the limbs are modified into fins. It belongs to the family Phocidae. It is the second largest footed mammal next to the Saimaa ringed seal. The name so given to this seal is due to its habitat which is warm temperate, subtropical and tropical waters of the Mediterranean Sea and the east Atlantic Ocean. Due to fear or shyness, they remain hidden from humans and prefer isolated haul-out sites.
Being one of the largest seals in the world, Mediterranean monk seal measure about 2.4 meters in length; whereas as the infants are on an average 80 cm long. Average weight of the males is around 310 kg, whereas females are little lighter than males and weigh around 300 kg. Average weight of each species ranges from 250 to 300 kg. Baby seals or pups are about a meter long and weigh just 15-18 kg. They show sexual dimorphism from their birth. Having an average lifespan of 20-25 yrs, they can live up to 45 years. By the age of four years they are able to reproduce. They can dive up to at least 165-230 ft to forage. The major source of diet is fish, rays, and cephalopods.
These Monk seals have been extirpated from most of its original habitat by human mistreatment and disturbances. They are targeted and killed by fisherman for their oil, meat, hides since many decades. Fishing gears are thought to be as the greatest threat to them, as they entangle themselves to these gears, resulting in their death. Some factors such as disease epidemics, toxic algae or oil spills can also threatening to the survival of this monk seal. Today the entire population of monk seal is estimated to be less than 600, scattered around a wide range.