The NGO Archipelagos – environment and development is one of the primary NGOs working to protect the Mediterranean Monk Seal in Greece and beyond. Archipelagos is carrying out research in key areas to improve understanding of the species’ biology, its conservation needs and status, and to aid understanding between seals and fishermen. Archipelagos is conducting a systematic monk seal photo-identification project in the Mediterranean along with habitat surveys to monitor seal birth and death rates, and behavioural aspects; DNA analysis to identify the population’s genetic structure; analysis of microplastic impact on seal populations and habitats in collaboration with the Hellenic Centre of Marine Research; and microbiome analysis in collaboration with the University of Thessaly. Archipelagos closely collaborates with local people, mainly fishers, directly involving selected persons in conservation activities.
Interactions between seals and the fishing communities, as well as other threats, are being monitored to develop and enforce conservation measures. Since Archipelagos began cooperating with local fishing communities back in the 90s, killings of Mediterranean monk seals in the central Ionian Sea have almost stopped. They are now collaborating with governmental authorities in the establishment of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) while continuing the long-term photo-ID project and expanding it to the Northern Ionian Sea, while producing awareness campaigns at the local and national level.