Tropical and subtropical records of hooded seals (Cystophora Cristata) dispel the myth of extant Caribbean monk seals (Monachus tropicalis)
Since the late 1950s, undocumented sightings of seals in the Caribbean have been reported. It has been suggested that the Caribbean monk seal (Monachus tropicalis) might not be extinct based on circumstantial evidence. We provide an explanation for recent sightings of seals in the tropical and subtropical Western North Atlantic as we present eight new extra-limital records of hooded seals (Cystophora cristata) from North Carolina south to the Caribbean. The unexplained behavior of young hooded seals straying south of their whelping area may encompass long distance movements, extending as far south as the Caribbean. Our records provide an unequivocal explanation for pinniped sightings in the subtropical and tropical waters of the Western North Atlantic that, without definite evidence, such as a specimen or photograph, may have been attributed to the extinct Caribbean monk seal.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: January 1, 2001
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