24 September 2004
Satellite News from Dimitris
Orphaned seal criss-crosses the Sporades Marine Park, sets new diving record
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.
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)
Tel: +30 21 5222888