The Mediterranean Sea runs along the southern coast of Europe from the Straits of Gibraltar, around the eastern Mediterranean coasts of Syria, Lebanon and Israel, and around along the northern edge of Africa. The sea covers an area of around 970,000 square miles, according to the World Wildlife Federation. In and around the Mediterranean live many different species of animals, including both species native to the region and species introduced by foreign forces.
Mediterranean Sea Life
The Mediterranean monk seal is an endangered species. Male Mediterreanean monk seals are larger than females and can grow up to 7 to 9 feet and weigh 530 to 880 lbs. These seals can vary in color from brown to gray, but all have distinctive heads with a crown shape. Sharks and stingrays also live in the Mediterranean Sea; the Maltese skate – one of these types of sharks – is found in the Mediterranean and nowhere else. Mediterranean sharks and stingrays are highly endangered, mostly from excessive fishing.
Mediterranean Desert Animals
The Nubian ibex can be found all the way from the Arabian Peninsula and through Israel. Once also active in Lebanon and Syria, the species is extinct there due to loss of water sources, hunting and encroachment of populations. The Nubian ibex lives in mountainous desert terrain in separate herds of male and female. Other species common to the Mediterranean desert regions of Israel and northern Africa are mountain gazelles, wild boar, foxes, jungle cats, hyenas and jackals.
Animals Introduced into the Mediterranean Region
Cats are the primary species not native to the Mediterranean region, but they are a constant presence in the countries of the eastern Mediterranean -- the region known as the Levant. During the British Mandate in this region, which lasted from the fall of the Ottoman Empire around 1916 until the late 1940s or early 1950s, depending on the specific country, the British introduced cats into the Levant in order to control the rat population. The British failed, however, to control the cat population and in the 20th and 21st centuries, street cats are a common sight in at least Israel and Jordan.
Other Native Species
The Mediterranean gecko is most commonly found in southern Europe along the Mediterranean Sea and in northern Africa. These geckos are capable of making noises in order to resolve territorial problems or in order to deter predators. They have been introduced in the United States and are most commonly found in Florida and in southern Georgia. Scorpions are also native to Mediterranean coasts in Spain, France, Portugal, Italy, Cyprus and Greece.