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Monk seal is no more
The Caribbean monk seal is extinct, the US Government has announced.

That is the conclusion of scientists after five years of unsuccessful attempts to locate a single example of the species, the only sub-tropical seal to have lived in the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico.

The five-year period in which committed effort was made to locate the creature comes at the end of more than half a century in which no record has been made of the seals existence.

The last confirmed listing is of a seal spotted at Seranilla Bank, between Jamaica and the Yucatan Peninsula, in 1952. The animal was listed as endangered by the USA in 1967.

Its demise has been put down to the influence of man. Humans left the Caribbean monk seal population unsustainable after overhunting them, said biologist Kyle Baker, of the National Marine Fisheries Service. But so far it is the only seal to go extinct from human causes.

The creature was hunted strongly for its blubber during the European colonisation of the 1700s to 1900s. Two monk seal species remaining are the Hawaiian and Mediterranean monk seals.

Other species listed as extinct due to overhunting include the Atlantic grey whale and stellar sea cow, both of which are thought to have disappeared around 1800.

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