A Mediterranean monk seal, a threatened species with only 100 individuals thought to be alive in Türkiye, was seen resting on a boat in the marina of Aydın's Didim district.
The residents of the marina, who noticed the Mediterranean monk seal on the boat, reported the situation to the authorities. Officials and members of conservation teams arrived at the site to observe the seal. They discovered that the seal preferred the marina due to the richness of fish and the fact that the boats were anchored because of the winter season.
Ecosystem Conservation and Nature Lovers Association (EKODOSD) Chairperson Bahattin Sürücü stated that the seal belongs to the same species that has been identified in previous years.
Sürücü drew attention to the need to protect the natural habitats of the endangered Mediterranean monk seals.
"Aegean coasts are especially important for Mediterranean monk seals (Monachus monachus), which are critically endangered, according to IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) criteria and are known to live around the world, with around 700, and around 100 on Turkish coasts. The future of the Mediterranean monk seals living on the Aegean coasts depends on the conservation efforts of Türkiye and Greece, which host the main populations," Sürücü explained.
"Just the protection of these rare creatures and individual interventions are not enough. The most important thing is to protect the habitats of these creatures. In particular, the opening of the coasts for construction, destruction of natural habitats and deterioration of natural structures of coastal caves by constructing artificial platforms in caves should be prevented," he noted.
"The seals do not only (live) in the sea but also on the land of suitable coasts, where they breed and raise their young on the shore," the official went on to add.
As of 2015, it is estimated that fewer than 700 Mediterranean monk seals survive in three or four isolated subpopulations in the Mediterranean, especially in the Aegean Sea. It is believed to be the world's rarest pinniped species.
Home to a good deal of wildlife with its natural beauties, Aydın continues to be the breeding and feeding ground of many sea creatures with its marine biodiversity.