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Monk Seal Fact Files

Mediterranean Monk Seal

(Monachus monachus)

Biology

Thermoregulation

The Mediterranean monk seal inhabits a warm water environment atypical of most other pinnipeds.

The species is capable of tolerating high ambient temperatures, without risk of hyperthermia, by keeping its metabolism at low levels while sleeping and by exposing the ventral (and lighter) part of its body (Marchessaux & Muller 1987). Because of the monk seal’s sensitivity to human disturbance, this behaviour is only rarely observed today (Duguy & Marchessaux 1992, Mo et al. 2001). Conversely, the dorsal part of the body is more often exposed during moderate ambient temperatures (Caltagirone 1995).

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