M.A. Cedenilla CBD-Habitat._0287

A window that allows observe the heart itself of the colony

The Mediterranean monk seal is a critically endangered species. Searching a medical simile it would be something like a patient diagnosed to be very ill, needing to stay with its vital signs and other biological parameters constantly monitored. Any alteration, any malfunction in its vital system could be fatal if it is not detected and corrected on time.

The control of the Cabo Blanco colony it is done daily, on real time, thanks to the surveillance monitoring system installed at the breeding and hauling out caves. The value of the information that they provide and its exclusivity (they are the only caves used by this species in the world that count with this type of surveillance), makes unavoidable to reserve them a place on this blog.

And even more if 2015 makes the 20th year of the first installation of the video surveillance system at the two main breeding caves. All this time they have been almost daily accomplishing its function.

Thanks to these systems a rigorous monitoring of the productivity of the colony is being done, mainly the individual identification and monitoring of all pups born, neonatal and mortality rates, and identification and reproductive parameters of the adult females.

Periodical counts of the seals that use the caves are being done, as well as an individualized monitoring of the individuals by its identification sheets and registration on a database. This way, the surveillance cameras are an essential tool to obtain information with which build the demographic observatory of the population.

But to all said before, it has to be added that these cameras have allowed to discover and document important aspects of the biological and behavioral cycle of this species, knowledge that to that date was totally unknown. And all that without disturbing the seals!

The most complicated is the extreme environment at which those cameras have to work, exposed constantly to marine spray and frequently to the hit of waves when rough weather. This is why an important effort has to be made to keep them operative.

Precisely, on these days a complete check and maintenance of the systems are being made (something that it is done with an annual periodicity), taking apart every one of its components to clean them, get them ready and replace pieces in bad conditions. This year it has been detected an irreparable damage on the pan/tilt that moves the camera on one of the breeding caves. It is an expensive equipment, but inevitably it had to be changed for another one.

The most important thing is that one more year we can keep the rare privilege to observe from inside and in real time what happens daily in each of the breeding caves at Cabo Blanco, taking the pulse of the colony and learn from it.

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