Posted by: Loren Coleman on December 15th, 2010
This is an image of a captive Caribbean monk seal of an unknown gender at the New York Aquarium in 1909. This specimen was originally captured from either Arrecifés Triángulos (Campeche) or Arrecife Alacrán (Yucatan) in Mexico (Townsend 1909). New York Zoological Society, 1910.
Today, quite coincidentally, I learned that two new books on the Caribbean Monk Seal or West Indian Monk Seal (Monachus tropicalis) have been published.
First, there is Remembering a Species: A History of the Caribbean Monk Seal in Captivity by Charles Epting, from Lulu Press (ISBN: 978-0-557-92778-4).
Here is what is said about this volume:
“This book chronicles the fascinating, untold story of the Caribbean Monk Seal: the only seal native to the Caribbean Sea, the only species of true seal that has gone extinct in recent times, and, perhaps most interestingly, the only species of recently extinct mammalian carnivore that was displayed in captivity. This book looks at both scientific sources and primary sources to gather what is known about this species’ life in captivity in one volume.”
Epting writes me to say his book “details the Caribbean Monk Seal when it was kept in captivity in multiple aquariums on the East Coast between 1897 and 1913. I know that this species is a cryptid, and there are occasional reports of its continued existence.”
It was released in December 2010, (at $7.95 USD, 73 pages).
Meanwhile, Chad Arment has published the other book on the Caribbean Monk Seal.
Caribbean Monk Seals: Lost Seals of the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea by John Hairr, is a new selection from Coachwhip Publications. The book has a release date of January 3, 2011, but is available as of today, (at $14.95 USD,
Arment summarizes the contents: “Hairr explores the history of this now extinct (most likely) monk seal, its intersection with various cultures, and expeditions in search of any possible remaining survivors.”
These cryptozoology library worthy volumes appear to be two good companion texts covering different aspects of what is known about this special species.