by William M Johnson

Wild landscapes and political intrigue
among the scattered islands of the Aegean

The Mediterranean monk seal has been classified as one of the twelve most endangered animals in the world. Much loved by the ancient Greeks, in more recent years its habitat has experienced steadily increasing destruction. Urban growth, industrial poisons, mass tourism and overfishing have all taken their toll on this shy and reclusive creature. It has found its last refuge in the Eastern Aegean, a region where the hostile powers of Greece and Turkey confront each other across a few kilometres of sea.

For three years in the 1980s, the author headed an international project to save the critically-endangered Mediterranean monk seal by creating a network of sanctuaries in the Eastern Aegean. But after increasing harassment by the Greek security forces, he was expelled from the country, branded as a 'spy'. The focus of his story, however, is not just a personal battle with a kafkaesque bureaucracy: it is why the Greek government and international conservation organisations are allowing the monk seal to slip silently into extinction…

In recounting his story, the author takes us to the lush Eastern Aegean island of Samos, into the headquarters of the Greek intelligence services, into confidential meetings of the world’s most influential conservation organisations… Vividly-described episodes, both comical and poignant, describe the fight to save Europe’s most endangered marine mammal and its polluted, tourist-jammed habitat.

Mediterranean Monk Seal

"This is a sad and poignant account of the insanity of a world which allows such a delightful animal to become extinct, for ‘with every dying animal and plant, every dying forest, river and lake, a part of our humanity is also dying.’" — The Sunday Times

"A passionately written and entertaining book… we need books like this to remind us how easy it is to believe that complacency is really pragmatism." — New Scientist

Publishing info

Title: The Monk Seal Conspiracy
Author: William M Johnson
ISBN: 0-946097-23-2
Pages: 206 (Paperback)
Publisher: Heretic Books
Classification: Nonfiction
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