26. May, 2014

A life worth saving

The very first novel I ever completed (and sits in a drawer at our home for waifs and strays) was about the Mediterranean monk seals, the Monanchus, monachus, one of the worlds’s most critically endangered mammals. And on my return to the island, my thoughts are once again drawn to these incredible creatures that struggle to survive.

     I heard about their plight, when I first visited the island of Kefalonia a few years ago. There was a museum dedicated to marine life which sadly has closed, due to lack of money.

      These beautiful and trusting creatures, just like humans, share a love for the sun and the sea. But due to the increase in tourism and sea sports, they have been driven away from the sandy beaches to seek refuge in inaccessible caves along the coast, usually with underwater entrances.

      Once seen as a good omen to all seafaring people and placed under the protection of Poseidon and Apollo, the heads of these seals were on the first coins ever minted. Why, Plutarch, Homer, and Aristotle all immortalised these creatures in their writing. Surely this should give them some brownie points towards funding to save them from extinction

      I discovered, during my research at the time, that overfishing in these waters have caused a decrease in food for the seals. They are therefore blamed by fishermen for ripping their nets and stealing their fish and are killed in return, without proof of innocence.

      Using different sized nets and having protected areas have since been put into operation, but funding, as usual is a struggle. I can only hope, as I stare out at the quiet sea where they hide away in their caves, that they will continue to survive in the place which is rightly their home.