Best time to travel to Madeira

Monk Seals in Madeira

One of the rarest seals in the world can still be found in Madeira

Best time: September–October

Monk Seals
Monk Seals

Desertas Islands (Ilhas Desertas) host a nature preserve, famous for its conservation program for a monk seal, known as sea-wolf​ (lobo marinho in Portuguese). September-October is the breeding season for these rare mammals so there is a better chance to spot them and their offsprings. However, bear in mind that monk seals are usually very shy and avoid contact with people.

Practical info

When is the best time to see adult monk seals and their offsprings in Madeira?

The best time to see adult monk seals and their offsprings in Madeira is during the breeding season, which lasts from September to October. The monk seals are shy creatures, and you will need to look for them carefully. You can increase your chances of spotting them by joining a nature tour, but be sure to follow the strict rules to prevent disturbance to the seals. Show more

What islands are famous for their monk seal conservation program in Madeira?

The Desertas Islands (Ilhas Desertas) are famous for their monk seal conservation program in Madeira. The program was started in 1990 to protect the remaining population of the species, which is under threat of extinction. The nature preserve on the islands is only accessible with special permission, and visitors must be accompanied by a guide to avoid disturbing the wildlife. Show more

What is the purpose of the monk seal conservation program in Madeira?

The monk seal conservation program in Madeira aims to protect the remaining population of the species from becoming extinct. The program started in 1990 and has implemented measures such as population monitoring, rescue and rehabilitation of injured seals, and promotion of environmental education to prevent human disturbance. Thanks to the program, there has been a slight increase in the number of monk seals in Madeira. Show more

How endangered are monk seals in Madeira?

Monk seals are one of the rarest seals and are under threat of extinction in Madeira. There are approximately 40 monk seals left in the wild in the Madeira archipelago. However, the conservation program in place has helped increase their population slightly. If you plan to visit, make sure to follow the strict rules to prevent disturbing the seals and their habitat. Show more

What are the restrictions for visitors to the nature preserve in Ilhas Desertas?

Visiting the nature preserve in Ilhas Desertas is restricted to small groups of visitors with special permission. Certified guides must accompany visitors, and they must follow strict rules to ensure protection of the natural environment and wildlife, including the monk seals. Due to the limited accessibility and fragile ecosystem, visitors are required to be mindful of the impact of their presence to avoid disturbing the wildlife. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin