TUI Sea the Change Turkey

The Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus) is endemic to the Mediterranean Sea and Eastern Atlantic Ocean. It’s estimated that there are around 600-700 Mediterranean monk seals in the world, 100 of which are known to live off the Turkish coast.  

As a species, it’s regarded as “Critically Endangered (CR)” in the Mediterranean and is in the “Endangered (EN)” category of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List for the global assessment.  

So, every single seal is critical for the survival of the species. But local stakeholders such as small-scale fishers can often have animosity towards monk seals as they sometimes target fish caught in fishing nets and damage the nets.  

Yet the presence of monk seals is a positive indication that fish stocks are abundant, and the marine ecosystem is rich in biodiversity. So, it's important that fishers are engaged in conservation work to understand the value of monk seals in the marine habitat.  

TUI Sea the Change Turkey monitors the population status of monk seals in Turkey and the threats to their ecosystem, making appropriate interventions to improve conditions by improving available breeding and resting spaces, advocating for the establishment of core protection zones around the habitat, and increasing awareness on the species with key local communities including small-scale fishers and school-age children. 

TUI Sea the Change Turkey ensures that the endangered Mediterranean monk seal and its habitat are protected across south-western Turkey, and that local stakeholders understand, support and engage with conservation objectives.  

The project protects 12 km2 of coast and seascape and restores 1 km2, focusing on a number of key areas: 1) the continuation of existing monitoring activities and improving data collection through an improved coastal cave monitoring system using 4K and newly designed cameras which identify individual monk seals and use patterns; 2) the establishment of a dry platform in a coastal cave, to provide the monk seals with dry ground to rest on; 3) working with related government agencies to establish protection zones in caves where data confirms monk seal use or nesting, and and the adoption of the monk seal as a local symbol. 

It also engages with the fishing community through yearly meetings and by sharing knowledge on the importance of the Mediterranean monk seal, its conservation, and its link to overall marine habitat health.  

Additionally, Sea the Change Turkey runs workshops for 600 children at six local schools on the conservation of monk seals and their habitats, and works with boat tour companies, watersports operators and hotels to improve awareness amongst tourists about responsible water tourism. This includes briefings on how to help protect the Mediterranean monk seal and its habitat (including the importance of Posidonia oceanica, a type of seagrass endemic to the Mediterranean) and encouraging conservation-friendly behaviour, such as staying away from coastal caves (where signs will be placed to deter tourists from entering) and not disturbing monk seals.  


The Mediterranean Conservation Society - MCS (Akdeniz Koruma Derneği - AKD) was established in Izmir, Turkey, in 2012 as a national non-profit organization. MCS focuses on endangered species such as the Mediterranean Monk Seal and the Sandbar Shark, the monitoring and restoration of the marine ecosystems in which they live and supporting coastal communities in developing sustainable livelihoods through projects that are locally appropriate, based on good science and tradition. As a non-profit, we conduct projects to address several key challenges facing the Turkish coastline, including developing No-Fishing Zones (NFZs) and systems of community rangers, protecting endangered species and their habitat, tackling the issue of invasive species, developing sustainable alternatives to fishing through eco-tourism projects and organizing marine clean-up activities. 

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