Caribbean Monk Seal – It Was Very Good

Caribbean Monk Seal
Caribbean Monk Seal as depicted in “The Fisheries and Fisheries Industries of the United States”, by George Brown Goode

Caribbean Monk Seal (Neomonachus tropicali)

The Caribbean monk seal, West Indian seal or sea wolf was a species of seal native to the warm temperate, subtropical and tropical waters of the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and the west Atlantic Ocean. The seal had a relatively large, long, robust body, that could grow to be 8 ft in length and weigh between 375 to 600 lb. The Caribbean monk seal had a distinctive head and face. Their coloration was brownish and grayish with a lighter underside. They were also known to have algae growing on their fur, giving them a slight green tinge.

Caribbean Monk Seal
Two young Caribbean Monk Seals in New York Aquarium, 1910

The first historical mention of the Caribbean monk seal is recorded in the account of the second voyage of Christopher Columbus. Wherein the famous explorer killed eight of the animals while they rested on the beach. The animals were routinely slaughtered in large animals for their oil. By 1850 so many seals had been killed that there were no longer sufficient numbers for them to be commercially hunted.

The last confirmed sighting of the seal was in 1952 in the Caribbean Sea at Seranilla Bank, between Jamaica and the Yucatán Peninsula. After an extensive five-year study, the Monk seal was declared extinct in 2008.

More Information