Killing of monk seal Kostis caused outrage in Greece

The monk seal Kostis when he was released into the wild, Greece, February 1, 2019, credit: Panagiotis Dendrinos/MOm/via Reuters
The monk seal Kostis when he was released into the wild, Greece, February 1, 2019, credit: Panagiotis Dendrinos/MOm/via Reuters

The brutal killing of the rare monk seal Kostis has caused outrage in Greece. He was found harpooned from close range.

Three years ago, Kostis was rescued by fishermen, and he had become a local celebrity in Greece.

MOm, the Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Monk Seal, said Kostis had been deliberately killed in the waters near Alonnisos, in the northern Sporades islands.

“The coastguard alerted us, and we immediately went there, and unfortunately confirmed that the animal was dead,” MOm President Panagiotis Dendrinos told Reuters.

Kostis had been pierced by a spear-fishing harpoon. “All the way through his body. It had entered from the top, from his back, and the spear’s tip came out from below,” Dendrinos said.

“The harpoon was especially large. It was not the usual kind used by spear-fishermen, it was one metre and 33 centimetres long, and its diameter was seven millimetres,” he added. “Everything points to this being done on purpose.”

“It has greatly saddened and enraged us, and not only us, but also the majority of residents and visitors of Alonissos island,” Dendrinos said.

Alonissos, home to one of the last remaining colonies of monk seals in the Mediterranean, had taken Kostis to its heart after fishermen rescued him as a baby in 2018.

He was looked after at MOm’s rescue centre on Alonnisos and sent back into the wild at the age of 3-4 months, becoming a much-loved mascot for the island.

“We hope that the culprit is found because this is a criminal act. It is also illegal, according to the environmental law but also the new animal protection act, so it is punishable,” Dendrinos said.

The local prosecutor has ordered an investigation.


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