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

24 September 2004


Satellite News from Dimitris

Orphaned seal criss-crosses the Sporades Marine Park, sets new diving record

Four months after his release into the National Marine Park of Alonissos, Northern Sporades [Clear blue horizon for Dimitris, TMG 7 (1): June 2004], satellite tracking continues to show that Dimitris, the orphaned monk seal, is alive and well.

map of movements

click to enlarge

In its post-release satellite tracking programme, MOm is collaborating with the Sea Mammal Research Unit of St. Andrews University in Scotland, one of the world’s most experienced institutions in marine mammal satellite tracking.

Data gathered by satellite will undergo systematic analysis and processing once the transmitter is shed naturally with the animal’s first moult, in approximately five month’s time.

Initial results, however, already suggest that valuable information will be gained on little understood aspects of monk seal behaviour in the wild, particularly the degree to which individual animals roam between islands and scattered seal groups.

dimitris sleeping

Dimitris cave snoozing in the Sporades Marine Park

Since his release on 22 May, tracking movements recorded by satellite show that Dimitris has literally combed the expanse of the Marine Park, visiting repeatedly all the inhabited and deserted islands of the Sporades. He has also made it as far as Skyros and Evia.

Particularly impressive were satellite recordings of Dimitris’ diving activity, showing that he reached a maximum depth of 136 meters. The result effectively rewrites current scientific knowledge of the species, which has hitherto held that Mediterranean monk seals can dive up to 70-80 meters.

Beyond the technical means offered by the satellite, firsthand sightings have since confirmed that Dimitris is alive and well — if somewhat thinner than at his release, at the tail end of a fattening-up rehabilitation regime.

On 4 August and again one month later, MOm researchers found Dimitris sleeping contentedly in a known monk seal cave in the area.


Flery Fotiadou, Public Awareness Activities Coordinator

Hellenic Society for the Study & Protection of the Monk Seal (MOm)
Solomou 18
106 82 Athens

Tel: +30 21 5222888
Fax: +30 21 5222450


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