‘Paddleboarders pose risk to Mediterranean monk seals’

Dozens of standup paddleboarders are flocking to sea cliffs in the southern province of Antalya, a common nesting site of the endangered monk seal, creating a potential danger for the animals, an expert has warned.

Professor Dr. Mehmet Gökoğlu from Akdeniz University warned that surfers capturing photos inside the caves while passing through the cliffs disturb the monk seals, along with bats nesting inside.

He underscored that these activities must be stopped as immediately as possible. "People prevalently do this in order to observe the sea cliffs, especially when the sea is smooth. They even go down the caves," he said.

The monk seals, being on the brink of extinction with merely 700 animals remaining in the world, also attract tourists' attention who are cruising along the cliffs.

Indicating that some of these remaining animals live on the coasts between Türkiye and Greece, the professor pointed out the potential threat if the problem persists because of this keen interest.

"There are baby seals inside the caves who are being fed by their mothers. They might leave their babies as they feel threatened by people and we might lose the baby," the expert said.

Emphasizing the fact that Mediterranean monk seals only give birth every other year, the professor marked the situation as a great risk for the species and added: "As these places are rare nesting areas, human beings must not interfere in them."

Gökoğlu stated that surfers may carry on with their activities without entering the cliff shores and advised that the border should be determined by buoying the area.

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