Revealing the Mediterranean Monk Seal (Monachus monachus)’s Cave Preference in Gökova Bay on the Southwest Coast of Türkiye

Saydam E., GÜÇLÜSOY H.

Sustainability (Switzerland), vol.15, no.15, 2023 (SCI-Expanded) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 15 Issue: 15
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.3390/su151512017
  • Journal Name: Sustainability (Switzerland)
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, Aerospace Database, Agricultural & Environmental Science Database, CAB Abstracts, Communication Abstracts, Food Science & Technology Abstracts, Geobase, INSPEC, Metadex, Veterinary Science Database, Directory of Open Access Journals, Civil Engineering Abstracts
  • Keywords: camera trap, endangered species, Gökova Bay, marine conservation, Mediterranean monk seal, Monachus monachus, monitoring
  • Dokuz Eylül University Affiliated: Yes


The first cave-monitoring studies to be carried out on the southwest (SW) coast of Türkiye on endangered Mediterranean monk seals using camera traps occurred between 2017 and 2021 in five marine caves within Gökova Bay. The visual data obtained from the monitoring studies were evaluated to reveal the Mediterranean monk seals’ seasonal and diel cave use and identify the individual seals who were using the caves. Moreover, the necessary features and measurements of the identified caves were recorded to determine whether there were any correlations between the determined variables and monthly cave use by the monk seals. The results showed that cave use occurred mainly nocturnally, with the seals showing a diurnal activity pattern in the area. We evaluated 108,280 images/videos in total and identified 18 individuals using five caves in Gökova Bay. Three of these caves provided suitable characteristics for pupping, and two of them were used for pupping. A beta regression model revealed that the monthly cave use ratios varied seasonally, with more use in the fall season. Furthermore, the trends in annual cave use ratios, seasonality, wind speed, size of the wet area, luminance, number of cave-entry paths, and human activity were the best variables with which we could forecast the cave preferences of the seals.