First sighted by Christopher Columbus in 1490, the Caribbean monk seal was commonly used by seamen for meat, clothing and cooking oil for hundreds of years. Sadly, the last sighting of a Caribbean monk seal was in 1952, and now efforts are underway to preserve the last two remaining populations of monk seals in Hawaii and the Mediterranean Sea. According to the Environmental News Network, only some 1,700 now exist in the wild, and these are also being threatened by food shortages, diminishing habitat, and predators like sharks. With their numbers declining at around four percent each year, the clarion call for effective action now has conservation officials barking almost as loud as the monk seals themselves!

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