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Circumstantial evidence for the presence of monk seals in the West Indies

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Ian Lamont Boyd, MP Stanfield

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Based on interviews with 93 fishermen in northern Haiti and Jamaica during 1997 an assessment was made of the likelihood that monk seals survive in this region of the West Indies. Fishermen were asked to select marine species brown to them from randomly arranged pictures: 22.6 per cent (n = 21) selected monk seals. This number was significantly (P < 0.001) greater than the number who selected control species (walrus, harbour seal, and sea-lion) that they were unlikely to have observed. However, it was not significantly different (n = 19, P > 0.1) from the number who selected manatees, which are known to occur in the region ill small numbers. More than 95 per cent or respondents also identified species that ave known to occur commonly in the region. Further questioning of the 21 respondents who selected monk seals suggested that 16 (78 per cent) of them had seen at least one in the past 1-2 years. Those fishermen that were able to provide further descriptions gave information about size and colour that was consistent with many of these seals being monk seals. It is possible that the Caribbean monk seal is not extinct.



Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)310-316
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1998

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