Mediterranean monk seals are highly sensitive to disturbance and humans have extensively used both the sea and beaches of their habitat for centuries, causing the population to collapse (2). The main threats facing this species are deliberate killing by fishermen who perceive the species as a competitor for fish, entanglement in fishing gear, disturbance and habitat loss through development and tourism, disease, and the effects of toxic algal blooms (2). In 1997, two thirds of the seals in the largest population, located at Cap Blanc, Mauritania, were lost due to the accumulation of toxins in fish following an algal bloom (5) (10). These shy creatures have taken to hauling out in caves to give birth, rather than on developed beaches, and the collapse of such caves is a further threat to the survival of the species (2).
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