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Monk seal returned in Italy

An extremely rare example of a Mediterranean monk seal, believed to be the world's most endangered pinniped, has been spotted off the Tuscan island of Giglio.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature estimates the current global population of Mediterranean monk seals is about 350-450 individuals, and the seals have not been a consistent presence in Italian waters since the 1980s.

Environmental organisation Legambiente's Tuscan archipelago spokesman Umberto Mazzanti said the sighting of the wandering young seal confirmed the efficacy of marine protection in waters around the islands.

''We can hope that the species will return to our archipelago, where they lived until the 1960s,'' Mazzanti said.

The island of Giglio was named best coastal resort in Legambiente's Guida Blu for the second time running in May.

Most sightings of wandering monk seals in Italian waters have been around Sardinia.

by S. C.
13 june 2009, World News > Italy