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

News Release 10/11/99: Deterioration of Pup's Health Leads to Death
News Release 07/11/99: MOm Acts to Rescue Orphaned Monk Seal Pup

NEWS RELEASE 10/11/1999

Deterioration of Pup’s Health Leads to Death

On the morning of the 9th of November the condition of the pup AKRITAS deteriorated.

The animal, which suffered from a heavy parasitism infection and strong anaemia, during the last 24 hours exhibited respiratory problems and at the last stage it developed central nervous dysfunction, losing control of its movements. The animal, due to its low weight, had no reserves to face severe infection and despite veterinary treatment died on Wednesday November 10th 1999 at 6:30 in the morning.

The full necropsy will be held within the next days in order to identify the exact cause of its death.

NEWS RELEASE 07/11/1999

MOm Acts to Rescue Orphaned Monk Seal Pup

On 1 November 1999 at 14:30 MOm, through its Rescue and Rehabilitation Network, was informed of a stranded monk seal on the island of Ikaria, in the Eastern Aegean. The report concerned a young animal that was stranded at the beach of "Skepsi", one kilometre from the town of Agios Kirikos. Upon confirmation, contact was made with Mr. Giorgios Vitsaras, resident of Ikaria and the finder of the animal, who informed us that the pup was observed in the sea, swept by heavy waves, for about an hour. It was then washed up at the beach were it remained, seemingly exhausted. MOm's Rescue Team informed the local Port-Police Authority of the situation and requested their assistance in putting a constant watch over the animal, so as to ensure that it would not be disturbed. It should be noted that during the last few days the island was hit by quite heavy storms.

MOm’s Rescue Team reached the area at 04:00 that night. Following communication with the area’s Port-Police Authorities, the animal was transported for safety to the Port Police headquarters, under the direction of the Rehabilitation and Rescue Coordinator. An initial examination of the animal showed that it was a male newborn pup, approximately two weeks old. The pup was at the nursing stage and bore no signs of external injuries. However, it was dehydrated and very exhausted, since it had been without food for at least two days, due to separation from its mother. Its weight was measured to be 11 kg, while the normal weight for an animal of such age is estimated to be about 20 kg.

After providing first aid, an entire campaign was put into effect in order to transport the young animal to the Seal Treatment and Rehabilitation Center (STRC) in Steni Vala, Alonnissos. We would like to take this opportunity to express our sincere thanks to all the people who helped us throughout the entire mission and especially Mr. G. Vitsaras who discovered the animal and immediately alerted us, as well as the entire Port Police force of Agios Kirikos.

The young seal was given the symbolic name AKRITAS. The choice was made in honour of Ikaria, the island on which the animal was found and rescued, and also as a gesture towards the islands inhabitants and local authorities.

The Rehabilitation Program for the Mediterranean monk seal in Greece is one of the central activities of MOm/Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Monk Seal and it takes place in collaboration with the Veterinary School of the University of Thessaloniki, and the Seal Treatment and Research Center of Pieterburen, the Netherlands.

Dr. Natassa Komninou, veterinarian at the Veterinarian School of the University of Thessaloniki, accompanied the animal to Alonnissos, together with Ms. Eugenia Androukaki, a biologist specialized in the treatment and rehabilitation of monk seals and responsible for the coordination of the entire effort. In addition, on Saturday November 6th 1999, a nurse specialized in matters of seal rehabilitation arrived at Alonnissos from Pieterburen, the Netherlands. An open line of communication was also being kept with Professor Albert Osterhaus, Head of the Virology Department of Erasmus University, Rotterdam, to whom samples were sent for examination. Blood and bacterial samples were analyzed by the Diagnostic Laboratory BIOXHMEIA A.E. in Athens.