Monk Seals and their fate

In class, we talked about a certain monk seal species that is going extinct due to their lack of genetic variation and thus being more prone to diseases and other problems. Even though I know that humans and pollution create a lot of causes for animals to become extinct, I must say that I was very surprised that animals can go extinct on a natural level according to their genes. It makes me wonder about it on a very complex way which I find it hard to word but I will try: Natural selection is seen to help animals adapt to their environments, which is good for survival, but if a certain animal is naturally selected and then isolated for many years, accumulating a lot of genetic mutation (which most are harmful, I looked it up) how much of a chance of survival are they going to have in the long run? I am not sure how the genetic variability of most animals affects them, but the fact that this is happening to the seals in Hawaii, what makes it not happen to other animals? We also talked about the Mountain Lions in Florida being endangered due to some mutations and not much genetic variability (are they being hunted too? Is that why we have so little?). Regardless, if we were to not mess with the Mountain Lion genetic variability (by not introducing healthier cats to their gene pool) are they going to go extinct as well? How did it become that way? This is very interesting and I never really thought about nature that way. But then we also talked about ecosystems and the idea that it is self-sufficient, which is a good and peaceful thing to hear,  would it not eventually become weak due to so much copying and mistakes of DNA like it has happened to the seals in Hawaii? Maybe certain species don’t go extinct because their genetic pool isn’t too separated or isolated and they all have a good variance of genes. Still, I’m a bit confused about the topic but I find it very interesting.


As I was writing this post, I found an article on national geographic about these monk seals and apparently, their behavior is also affecting their extinction such as males killing females through a process called “mobbing” and accidental fishing of the species by humans. So maybe, even though genes may play a role in extinction, it may not be the cause for it in most animals. Even so, I believe that the monk seal’s fate can be changed by human efforts, if only we keep at it!

Also, the fact that humans have dominion over all the earth, I think that we should do something about this rapid decay of species. I think we should take care of the animals that we have here on Earth and help their species become stronger by introducing genetic variability like we did for the Mountain Lions in Florida. However, this also brings to mind the idea that there are some people who would rather take care of animals than other humans; I think as humans, we must take care of both animals and our own kind EQUALLY since we need each other to survive and also because of morals that God gave us to take care of each other and our surroundings.

-Luiza Alaniz


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