CBD-Habitat Foundation

Seal in water

Dedicated to protecting Europe’s most endangered marine mammal

The Mediterranean monk seal is Europe's most endangered marine mammal and is facing imminent extinction without our help.

Below you'll find more information about the CBD Habitat Foundation, what they are doing to protect this species and how we here at Blackpool Zoo help to contribute towards the conservation of monk seals.

Who are CBD Habitat?

The Mediterranean Monk Seal (Monachus monachus), Europe's most endangered marine mammal, is facing imminent extinction without our help. This species has recently been downgraded from endangered to vulnerable, although the population still resides at a dangerously low estimate of 450-600 mature individuals remaining in the wild (IUCN, 2023). Yet, an organisation known as the CBD Habitat Foundation is helping to improve the monk seals' status through targeted and justified action.

The Fundación para la Conservación de la Biodiversidad, or CBD Habitat Foundation, is an international conservation organisation established in 1998 to protect globally endangered species. The Monk Seal Conservation Programme is a collaborative effort between the CBD Habitat Foundation, and the governments of Mauritania, Morocco, Spain and Portugal. Their mission is to fight for the survival of these remarkable animals.


How do they help?

The largest remaining colony of monk seals can be found in three sea caves along the Costa de las Focas reserve on the Cabo Blanco Peninsula in Mauritania. Current threats to the colony include collision with fishing vessels, sea pollution with marine debris, infringement from tourists and cave collapses. There are 5 permanent conservationists in Mauritania, utilising 14 different observatories to continuously mitigate these threats using a holistic approach. 24/7 surveillance, detailed population monitoring and photo identification, mortality detection, education and public engagement as well as working with governments to create a long-term strategy for monk seal conservation is carried out. CBA Habitat also plays a key role in presenting progress with reintroduction methodologies that will advise the next steps in establishing new colonies in suitable locations.

Today, the Cabo Blanco seals are numbered at almost 400 individuals, compared to just 100 in 1998. In the same time period, annual seal births have grown to 80 pups, an average increase of 56 compared to over 20 years ago. Proof that the work of the monk seal project is having the long-term impact set out in the foundation's mission.

How do we support them?

Blackpool Zoo has been supporting the work of the CBD Habitat's Mediterranean Monk Seal Conservation Programme for over a decade. The generosity of Blackpool Zoo's visitors means that, year-after-year, we can provide continuous financial support to developing conservation efforts in the Cabo Blanco peninsula. Education and raising awareness about the plight of the Mediterranean monk seal is crucial in gaining further support for the project.

When visiting the Californian sea lion demonstration at Blackpool Zoo, you will learn about how we are helping to support the monk seal project, including how you can also make a difference to the future of this species. You can also read more about the pivotal success of the Mediterranean Monk Seal Conservation Programme by downloading our PDF here or by visiting the CBD Habitat website here.

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