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Tourist Hospitalized Due to Seal Bite off Greek Island of Alonissos

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A Monk seal photographed inside the Marine Park of Alonnisos. Credit:  Vasilis drosakis /Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

A woman was hospitalized for a seal bite she incurred off the coast of the Greek island Alonissos in the Northern Sporades on Tuesday.

A 50-year-old foreign tourist was on a sailboat in the first zone of the Marine Park of Alonissos, near Kyra Panagia island, when she was bitten.

Greek seal bite

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The woman saw the seal swimming and decided to approach it in her boat to see it from close up and pet it. However, the wild animal was naturally spooked due to her proximity, and it panicked, attacking her.

The seal bite caused severe damage to the woman’s legs and she is badly injured. The people she was traveling with originally brought her to the Skopelos Health Center so she could be treated on a nearby island.

Unfortunately, her injuries are very serious and following administering first aid, the doctors at the Health Center felt it was better for her to be transferred. She is now in Volos, on mainland Greece, where she is being cared for at Achillopouleio Hospital.

The incident is fairly surprising as it occurred within the bounds of the Marine Park of Alonissos, where the seals are generally used to being around humans.

Monk seal conservation

In February of 2016, a rare feat in environmental protection took place when the Hellenic Society for the Study & Protection of the Mediterranean Monk Seal (MOm) announced that the seal had made an unexpected comeback in the Aegean, with its population recovering to the point where it was no longer considered “critically endangered.”

The monk seal dropped down one category on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, from “critically endangered” to “endangered.”

And the beloved seal is holding its own, thriving in the protected waters of the National Marine Park of Alonnisos and the Northern Sporades. 

Ever since that remarkable milestone was met, the organization has done its utmost to keep the Monachus monachus seals protected in the seas off Greece, succeeding beyond its wildest dreams.

With an office in Patitiri on the Northern Sporades island of Alonnisos, MOm is able to keep a close eye on the National Marine Park of Alonnisos and the Northern Sporades, which stretches between Alonnisos and nearby smaller islands.

Although it is a marine sanctuary for the Monachus Monachus and other wildlife, boaters and other visitors are allowed to visit its waters as long as they comply with regulations in place there.

It is currently the largest protected marine area in Europe, at approximately 2,200 square kilometers (849 square miles). Within its boundaries lie the Underwater Archaeological Park of Peristera, an islet off Alonissos, which protects one of the most spectacular shipwrecks ever found.

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