The Akamas Peninsula of Cyprus is an area along the rocky shoreline with caves where Mediterranean monk seals (Monachus monachus) rest. These caves are also used to rear and nurse their pups in safety. The area extends to the 200m isobath and follows the same boundary as the existing Convention on Biological Diversity’s Ecologically or Biologically Significant Area (EBSA). The Mediterranean monk seal is an Endangered species. A resident population of the monk seal is present in the Akamas area, and the status of this population is now at a critical stage. Important sea caves, also present in this area, offer resting and breeding habitats for the monk seal.
Description of Qualifying Criteria
Criterion A – Species or Population Vulnerability
The IUCN Red List classifies the Mediterranean monk seal as Endangered and infers that their numbers are declining from significant anthropogenic threats. The area contains important caves that the monk seals use for their resting and breeding. Furthermore, a database of recording sightings of the monk seals around the island of Cyprus is maintained by the Department of Fisheries and Marine Research (DFMR). Through these activities, it is confirmed that the within this area, there are 4-5 individuals.
Criterion C: Key Life Cycle Activities
Sub-criterion C1: Reproductive Areas
The caves that the monk seals use for their resting and breeding were confirmed through the surveys carried out in Cyprus in 1997, 2005-2006 and 2011. Through these surveys, a number of caves were examined along the coastline of Cyprus during the identification of suitable monk seal habitats, and it is confirmed that the area contains important habitat (caves) were monk seals have been observed to be used for pupping.
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