Caribbean Monk Seal – (Monachus Tropicalis)

The Caribbean Monk Seal

(Monachus Tropicalis) was a once abundant species and a distant relative of the Hawaiian Monk Seal. Their range spread over a considerable area before they died out. The last confirmed sighting was in 1952, between Nicaragua and Jamaica. Several surveys have been undertaken in the hope of discovering a last few remaining individuals but sadly, in 2008 the IUCN listed the species officially as extinct. These seals lacked an inherent fear of man, which undoubtedly added to their demise as they were heavily hunted by settlers to the region from the mid 1600’s onwards. Their oil was used to grease machinery on sugar cane plantations. It is the only species of seal to have become extinct in modern times. Let us unite to conserve all other species to prevent this tally from rising.

Caribbean Monk Seal (Monachus tropicalis) Map of range and distribution

Caribbean Monk Seals distribution and range


According to historical records, adult Caribbean Monk seals were a greyish brown with yellowing tips st the end of their fur. Pups were woolly and black. They were closely related to their cousins, the Hawaiian Monk seals and as such looked fairly similar. Adults measured roughly 2 – 2.2 m in length and weighed between 180 kg and 210 kg. Pregnant and lactating females were reported to have been heavier than their male counterparts.

Caribbean, or West Indian, monk seal, (Monachus tropicalis) extinct

Extinction is forever.


As with the Hawaiian Monk Seal, pups were born during the month of December and measured just under a meter in length. Pups were reared and nursed on open sandy beaches. Reports indicate these animals had no innate fear of humans.

Old black and white photo of a Caribbean Monk Seal

Old black and white photo of a Caribbean Monk Seal

Tanzanian postage stamp commemorating Caribbean Monk Seal (Monachus tropicalis)

Tanzanian postage stamp

Caribbean Monk Seal (Monachus tropicalis) EXTINCT

Caribbean Monk Seal
(Monachus tropicalis)