One of the most sought-after animals in the world: funny snout, buffi movimenti e abitudini da gran timidona!
A few speleological groups studied this funny pinniped in Sardinia: like speleologists, seals used to spend their time inside caves, beyond sumps and submerged chambers,to find shelter from sun rays and human passage. For this reason, since the very beginning, they prefer small islands, secluded coves and inlets, sheer cliffs over the sea.
In the Summer of 1970, also the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare from London decided to do some research, sending to Sardinia its scientific director Walter Scott, a real expert of seals and endangered animals. It was Padre Antonio Furreddu, founder of the Gruppo Speleologico Pio XI and acknowledged expert of this suject who led Walter Scott all along the beautiful coasts of the island. During the Fifties, Furreddu had started a long research on local populations of Monk Seals in Sardinia, documenting their presence in modern times, monitoring survived specimens, exploring coastal caves in which they still found shelter last seals. Here are some pictures of the time, property of Gruppo Speleologico Pio XI:
It was clear from these studies how rapidly, during 20th century, the number of specimens fell: if, at the beginning of the Century, still 25 spots along the coast hosted seals permanently, in the Sixties and Seventies there were only a few specimens in the Gulf of Orosei, to be more precise, only seven seals inside the Grotta del Fico, and ten or so scattered along 1800 km of coast.
Since the Eighties, “last sightings” along the coast of Baunei and in Sardinia, in general, follow one another, so many that somebody would swear monk seals still live in the island, they’re probably more clever and manage to live far from our eyes, enjoying our beautiful inlets in the right time of the year.
Today, inside the Grotta del Fico, it’s possible to admire and photograph two amazing reproductions of the MEditerranean MonkSeal, made by Massimo Canargiu, a local naturalist and taxidermist.