Caribbean monk seal is extinct
The Caribbean monk seal is extinct, U.S. officials declared Friday. The seals, also called West Indian seals, have been on the endangered-species list since 1967; the last confirmed sighting of one was in 1952. The Caribbean monk, native to the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico, is the only seal that has gone extinct directly because of human causes. “Following European colonization from the 1700s to 1900s, the seals were exploited intensively for their blubber, and to a lesser extent for food, scientific study, and zoological collection,” the U.S. Marine Fisheries Service explained in a statement. Those carrying on the monk seal name are also barely hanging on: only 1,200 Hawaiian monk seals and 500 Mediterranean monk seals remain in the wild, and the Hawaiian population is declining at a rate of 4 percent per year.