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MOm Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Monk Seal

4 Feb. 2004



Monk Seal Orphan Rescued on Karpathos



Dimitris, under care at MOm’s rescue & rehabilitation station on Alonissos.

A monk seal orphan, rescued from stormy seas at the Eastern Aegean island of Karpathos, is responding to emergency treatment in the Alonissos rehabilitation station operated by MOm.

At 19:00 hrs on 29 December, Mr. Dimitris Roussakis, a local fisherman, alerted MOm’s team in Karpathos that a monk seal pup was stranded on the island’s Arkassa beach. Karpathos island is one of the current EU Life-Nature project sites, where public awareness activities have been implemented since 1998.

The following morning at 05:30, biologist Jenny Androukaki, head of MOm’s Rescue and Rehabilitation division, flew to Karpathos to examine the pup, who had been already transported to the airport by the organisation’s LIFE-Nature project team and the Port Police.

The foundling was a 3 week-old male pup, who had been washed away from his mother by a fierce storm that had battered the area for three days.

The pup was exhausted and dehydrated, with head and flipper wounds probably sustained in the wild waves that drove it across the rocks.

Lactation had been interrupted for at least 72 hours. With the condition of the animal characterized as critical, he was quickly transferred by plane to Athens, where he remained for a day.

There he was examined by Dr. Natassa Komninou, a specialist vet from the University of Thessaloniki, and given first aid. Prof. A. Osterhaus, of Erasmus University in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, also provided additional specialist treatment advice by telephone. As part of a long-standing collaboration, expert nurses were also provided by the Seal Rehabilitation and Research Centre of the Netherlands.

Dimitris with MOm’s head of Rescue and Rehabilitation, Jenny Androukaki.

The following day, the pup was transferred to Steni Vala, Alonnisos, in the Northern Sporades Marine Park, where MOm operates its mobile rehabilitation station.

The pup was named ‘Dimitris’ in recognition of the sensitized fisherman who had wasted no time in alerting the organisation of the pup’s discovery.

Since his rescue, little Dimitris has been cared for according to specific Monk Seal Rehabilitation Protocols.

MOm’s scientists and their Dutch colleagues are doing their utmost to ensure that Dimitri’s frightening adventure has the most positive outcome. Hopefully, this will mean a return to his natural environment following a rehabilitation period of five to six months.

The rescue and rehabilitation of a monk seal pup is a difficult task at the best of time, but even more so when funding is not assured.

With Dimitris’ rehabilitation expected to cost €80,000, MOm is appealing for urgent financial help to support these vital efforts.


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