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Animals Conservation Travel

After Half A Century The Endangered Monk Seal Is Back In Elba Seaside

The beautiful monk seal made its reappearance in the transparent waters of the Tuscan islands after years of absence.

This year certainly is special for Elba island and the Tuscan archipelago: after recent sightings of dolphins, striped dolphins, whales and sperm whales after 50 years, the monk seal has returned for a swim. The first to notice were tourists and fishermen on the island of Capraia. Its presence was then verified by scholars and researchers from ISPRA, the Higher Institute for Environmental Protection and Research.

The Tuscan Archipelago National Park Authority is currently evaluating the most appropriate conservation procedures and protocols, involving local community in an increasingly inclusive and collaborative way. A monitoring device was installed in order to collect all possible information on the unexpected return of this special specimen, a specie now considered rare and endangered by the International Union for the conservation of nature.

The entire Tuscan archipelago is experiencing a new exceptional moment in the name of the concrete enhancement of biodiversity at sea, which confirms how the waters between Elba, Capraia, Pianosa, Montecristo and all other islands still constitute an ideal habitat for this specific type of seal to reproduce in quiet areas far from the coasts.

Although in recent years there has been some sporadic sightings of some special specimens, but 2020 is the year that is breaking record and making new future settlements for these species. Monk seals used to be widespread throughout the Mediterranean, in the Black Sea and on the Atlantic coast from Spain to West Africa; today, the specie has less than 700 specimens spread across Greece, Turkey, Madeira, Portugal, and Mauritania.

The Tuscan Archipelago National Park Authority has decided to organize activities to explore the islands at sea during the summer with small groups of boat excursions accompanied by experts who can assist in the sightings to properly appreciate our beautiful nature.

The archipelago, where Elba stands out as the largest island, is a cetacean paradise. In 1999, the international protected area of ​​the Cetacean Sanctuary was established, a marine area of ​​87,500 square kilometers. The most important objective is the protection of the marine mammals that frequent the area. It is a large and diverse ecosystem with a significant scientific, cultural and educational interests. The biodiversity in this area is remarkable and it is not uncommon to spot dolphins, striped dolphins and fin whales. These sightings are evidences for the richness of these waters with species migrating to places where they find the most favorable habitat for food consumption.

These species are often sedentary in the area, in particular between Marciana and Chiessi all’Elba. With a little luck, it is possible to witness their entrance right into the bay of Capo Sant’Andrea, where they often remain in open water, 3.5 to 2 miles from the coast. Lately, cetaceans have been visiting quite frequently and have been seen numerous times by tourists and local inhabitants who are actively involved in the protection of these habitats.

The most favorable months to get to know these fascinating creatures are in May, June, September and October.

Seawatching is open to everyone (including children) by reservation.

Costs: € 30 adults, € 20 children from 0 to 12 years. Place of departure: Capraia Island – Tuscany – Italy Reservation: Info Park (tel. +39 0565 908231)

Days and times: from July 2020 Sunday 8.30 – Monday 18.00 – Tuesday 18.00 – Thursday 10.30;

Find out more about Visit Elba at www.visitelba.info