Akrotiri is the southernmost part of the island of Cyprus, within the British Sovereign Base Area. The area of Akrotiri extends along the coast between Cape Gata and Cape Zevgari, and outward to the 200m isobath. The area has several caves where Mediterranean monk seals (Monachus monachus) rest and pup. The discovery of a pup in 2011 in one of these caves has confirmed the area as an important habitat for the Endangered Mediterranean monk seal.
Description of Qualifying Criteria
Criterion A – Species or Population Vulnerability
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 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. Monk seal surveys had previously been 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 surveys for existence of suitable monk seal habitats.
Criterion C: Key Life Cycle Activities
Sub-criterion C1: Reproductive Areas
The caves which Mediterranean monk seals use for their resting and breeding within the area 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. In addition to the surveys, the Department of Fisheries and Marine Research (DFMR) has been implementing a monitoring programme since 2011, with visits to the previously discovered sea caves, recording the presence / absence of monk seals, as well as any signs of occupation by monk seals. Through these activities, it is confirmed that the area contains important habitat (caves) were monk seals have been observed using. In addition, a confirmed breeding was reported in 2011, when a pup was discovered in one of the caves.
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