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Portugal: Wild Land on the Edge | Monk Seals on the Brink of Extinction | Nature


– [Narrator] The Mediterranean and the coastal waters of North Africa and Western Europe were once home to hundreds of thousands of Mediterranean monk seals.

These days, just 300 or so remain.

Over centuries, they have been hunted to the brink of extinction.

A small colony enjoys the protection of the Desertas Grande conservation area.

Meal times are followed by a quick power nap.

A Mediterranean monk seal can spend up to 15 minutes beneath the surface before it has to come up for air.

After a few deep breaths, the seal dives down again to continue its afternoon siesta.

(boat engine rumbling) The only humans to visit Desertas Grande are the researchers who come once a year (water splashing). The team works quickly as the tide rises.

Cameras that can broadcast for 10 months are installed before the start of the mating season.

The monk seals have always been independent creatures.

Their justified fear of humans has made them even more shy and careful, and they are now rarely seen along beaches or coastlines, preferring the safety of caves.

The cameras are there to observe the seals’ mating behavior and to capture a possible population increase without in any way disturbing their subjects.



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