Kostis, the adorable and friendly seal-mascot of the island of Alonissos, has been found dead from harpooning, as reported by MOm, an NGO devoted to protecting the Mediterranean Seal.
Kostis, named after the fisherman who saved him as Cyclone Zorbas lashed the Aegean Sea in 2018, was "deliberately killed" off Alonissos island's coast MOm NGO for the protection of the Mediterranean monk seal said Saturday.
The island is part of the Alonissos and Northern Sporades marine park, Greece's first such park where sea life is protected by Greek law.
It is the largest such protected area in Europe, according to the marine park's website.
"The innocent and seal was executed at close range with a spear gun that had a large spear for precisely that purpose," MOm said in a Facebook post.
According to the group, Mediterranean monk seals are endangered, and almost half of the surviving population lives in Greece.
The group had taken Kostis under its wing after his rescue, moving him to a first aid centre before returning him to his natural environment in the Aegean Sea.
But Kostis proved to be very friendly and was often seen lying on boats in the port of Alonissos island, posing for photos.
In the Aegean Sea, Greece has allocated a large area for the preservation of the Mediterranean monk seal and its habitat. The Greek Alonissos Marine Park, that extends around the Northern Sporades islands, is the main action ground of the Greek MOm organisation.
MOm is greatly involved in raising awareness in the general public, fundraising for the helping of the monk seal preservation cause, in Greece and wherever needed. Greece is currently investigating the possibility of declaring another monk seal breeding site as a national park, and also has integrated some sites in the NATURA 2000 protection scheme. The legislation in Greece is very strict towards seal hunting, and in general, the public is very much aware and supportive of the effort for the preservation of the Mediterranean monk seal, with this tragic incident leaving all the local volunteers shocked and saddened.
The Mediterranean monk seal is a monk seal belonging to the family Phocidae. As of 2015, it is estimated that fewer than 700 individuals survive in three or four isolated subpopulations in the Mediterranean, especially in the Aegean Sea, the archipelago of Madeira and the Cabo Blanco area in the northeastern Atlantic Ocean. It is believed to be the world's rarest pinniped species.
The Central Port Authority is currently investigating the case along with the Mom organisation.
Back in 2019 a Rare Mediterranean Monk seal shot and killed in Pelion