Extinct (perhaps since 1952?): the Caribbean monk seal
73 Fed. Reg. 32521 (Monday, June 9, 2008)(DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; Endangered and Threatened Species; Proposed Rule to Remove the Caribbean Monk Seal from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife; Proposed rule.)
SUMMARY: We, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), have reviewed the status of the Caribbean monk seal (Monachus tropicalis) and conclude that the species is extinct. As a result, based on the best available information, we propose to delist the Caribbean monk seal under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Caribbean Monk Seal (Monachus tropicalis) photo from the New York Zoological Society, 1910; courtesy of Monachus.org, available online from NOAA See also, The Extinction Website.
NOTEWORTHY EXCERPT: Although documentation of harvest levels and practices that led to this species’ population decline is nearly absent, it is evident from early reports that relatively large numbers of seals persisted in at least some areas as late as the early 1800s and that their precipitous decline in abundance was due to heavy exploitation by sealers and others. During the 1800s their distribution became increasingly fragmented. By the time scientific expeditions were organized in the late 1800s to document and study the species, their range was already drastically curtailed. Rice (1973) noted that the last confirmed sighting of this species was in 1952 at Seranilla Banks in the western Caribbean. The Caribbean monk seal population was already severely depleted, and likely extirpated throughout most, and possibly all, of its range prior to the passage of the ESA and Marine Mammal Protection Act.