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article imageCarribean Monk Seals, Gone For Good?

By Gar Swaffar     Jun 7, 2008 in Environment
Carribean Monk Seals have been officially designated as extinct. The last reported sighting was in 1952. It is thought to be the first seal to become extinct caused only by humans.
The Caribbean Monk Seal with it's official designation of extinction brings another milestone to species preservation. Part of the reason noted by the The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration's Fisheries Service (NOAAFS) for the extinction was 'research'.
In the case of the Monk Seals, there remains both the Hawaiian and Mediterranean Monk seals, both of which are listed as endangered since the Hawaiian Monk seals are reported to have a population of 1,200 or less and the Mediterranean Monk is under 500. While it might be interesting for 'researchers' to find, capture and retain examples of the seals to record for posterity all of the attributes of these mammals, the threat to the species seems to outweigh the information gained.
Even if breeding pairs could be captured, the ability to hold a group large enough to maintain biological diversity without the inclusion of recessive gene traits can only be considered detrimental to the existing wild population. In effect, only two choices can be made, leave the seals to their own devices, with the protection needed to ease any hunting or human predation or round up all of the Hawaiian and Mediterranean Monk seals still alive.
A biologist for NOAA's Fisheries Service southeast region "We hope we've learned from the extinction of Caribbean monk seals, and can provide stronger protection for their Hawaiian and Mediterranean relatives," Kyle Baker said.
My hope in this case is for the NOAAFS to have learned how little they are able to shape the course of events for creatures who live in oceans without fences, creatures who can wander from the Caribbean to the Mediterranean and then back to the Hawaiian Islands if they choose too.
Also, the presumption of extinction seems just that, presumptuous. If a creature is finding increased predation, decreased food sources and pressure from competing species, there is at least a possibility it may have chosen to make the obvious move to a different area!
When an animal makes that decision in something as large as an ocean the odds of finding it in a few decades is minimal at best, and could easily be left for future generations to rediscover.
As is always the case these days, an outcry has been made to preserve what is left of the Hawaiian and Mediterranean Monk Seal populations.
Vicki Cornish, a wildlife expert at the Ocean Conservancy, said the fate of the Caribbean monk seal is a "wake-up call" to protect the remaining seal populations.
"We must act now to reduce threats to existing monk seal populations before it's too late," she said. "These animals are important to the balance and health of the ocean. We can't afford to wait."
That cry is nearly always accompanied by requests for massive infusions of Federal monies and further disruptions to the native species populations.
Biologist Bud Antonelis said NOAA's Fisheries Service has developed a monk seal recovery plan for the Hawaiian monk seals.
"But we need continued support from organizations and the public if we are to have a chance at saving it from extinction," he said. "Time is running out."
Again, a plan is in place, but the request is for more money to 'fix the problem' I've noticed personally over the past few decades, most animals if they can just be left alone long enough have a habit of making more animals on their own. Why is it always deemed necessary to develop an elaborate process and reclamation effort of a species?
It brings to mind the spoof movies of Austin Powers (dual links) and the overly complicated methods of assuring the demise of the "good guys" by the "bad guys".
I believe most humans on the planet have a fondness for most of the animals we share the planet with. But we are not always responsible for the eradication of every species which fails to adapt to a changing environment.
The biologists and naturalists are quick to blame both human predation, and of course 'climate change', which has become the new code word for global warming.
All indications point to fluctuations in the global climate, not disputable. The effects of global warming though have been pushed out to some time in the future now though, approximately ten years, due to ocean currents. DUH! The ocean currents have affected global climate since the oceans first formed.
The included link is in relation to a global warming incident 55 million years ago. Unless Al Gore has a time machine in his back pocket, the number of private jets, 22,000 square foot houses and limousines were very limited at that time.
Why is this idea of natural variation in global climate considered to be news now? The reasons for any suspect ideology can typically be found by following the money trail. Al Gore has gotten very wealthy indeed since developing his religion of Global Warming
And with all of that said, I hope the Monk Seals are able to just be left alone to do their thing, making more Monk Seals.
More about Carribean monk seals, Extinct, Dodo