A diver who captured this wonderful poignant footage of Kostis, a seal which grew to become the mascot for a Greek island, has spoken of his grief over the creature’s brutal dying.
Nikos Vardakas was delighted to be joined by the pleasant younger monk seal taking part in fortunately with him underwater as he and a small group have been diving on an historic wreck close to the island of Alonissos earlier this month.
However tragically, the beautiful video – proven right here for the primary time by MailOnline – could be the final time Kostis was filmed, as just a few days later, he was callously killed by a fisherman’s spear gun, sending shockwaves amongst his followers all over the world.
A police hunt has now been launched for the wrongdoer and a reward supplied by Greek marine conservation charity Mother, which nurtured the pup after he was separated from his mom throughout a violent storm, Cyclone Zorbas, in 2018 — and rescued by a fisherman named Kostis.
Diver Nikos Vardakas was with pals when he captured the ultimate footage of the beloved monk seal Kostis (pictured) days earlier than he was ‘intentionally killed’ off the coast of Alonissos island
Kostis (pictured) was rescued from a violent storm in 2018 and have become well-known for his pleasant manner resulting in islanders on Alonissos adopting him as their unofficial mascot
Kostis grew to become well-known and was adopted by the islanders of Alonissos as their unofficial mascot. He captured their hearts in a lot the identical method because the octopus within the hit Netflix documentary My Octopus Trainer, displaying the outstanding bond between a film-maker and the undersea creature dwelling in a South African kelp forest.
Diving teacher Nikos, 46, who can be an actor in movies and on Greek TV, stated he’d by no means heard of Kostis when he and three pals have been 25m below the ocean on an historic wreck close to the island of Peristera, close to Alonissos, a fortnight in the past.
‘I used to be in the back of the group and I immediately felt one thing touching my calf,’ he recalled. ‘I turned spherical and there was this seal, coming spherical the opposite method.
All smiles: Kostis the monk seal who has since been killed, sparking a police investigation
‘I’ve remodeled 5,000 dives and I’ve by no means had an expertise prefer it. Dolphins will be pleasant, and usually seals are fairly shy, however this one was very eager to play and wished me to reply.
‘At first, I wasn’t positive if I ought to push him away, however I actually felt there was a deep connection. Typically he hugged my leg along with his flippers, and at one level we took a selfie collectively!
‘It was like taking part in with my canine, however the preliminary strategy all got here from him.
‘Then my dive buddy Zoe Pristouri, a novice diver, got here again in the direction of us and Kostis (as I later found his title to be) was taking part in together with her, however very gently, by no means being aggressive.
‘I’ve by no means seen a seal behaving on this method earlier than and it actually felt magical.
‘I would like individuals to see the movie of Kostis in order that they can also see he was an animal, with a soul, who was attempting to attach with people in a method that, tragically, people do not appear in a position to perceive.’
The outstanding underwater encounter lasted for 20 minutes, and even after the divers returned to the boat, Kostis surfaced to say howdy and put his head on the strict of the vessel.
Later Nikos discovered that Kostis was identified to hunt out interplay with swimmers and snorkellers and sailors across the island.
However after Nikos returned house to Athens, a pal drew his consideration to the devastating information about Kostis’ demise – considered by the hands of a fisherman.
Kostis was identified to hunt out interplay with swimmers and snorkellers across the island
Folks launch orphaned monk seal Kostis into the wild after being handled at a rescue centre
‘I used to be so upset once I heard he was lifeless,’ stated Nikos. ‘A few of my pals have been saying, properly, he is simply an animal, however that is lacking the purpose. We linked on a deep degree and you can not simply dismiss that so simply.
‘To me it felt like a relationship with a child who hadn’t fairly grown up and was possibly a little bit bit insecure, searching for love. I am unable to assist questioning if that innocence made Kostis extra susceptible to whoever killed him.’
Monk seals – which develop to about 280kg when mature – are extraordinarily uncommon and due to this fact a protected species, however fishermen blame them for damaging their nets and consuming their catch.
There are believed to be fewer than 700 Mediterranean monk seals within the wild.
MOm has vowed to sue the individual liable for Kosti’s dying whereas the charity’s Fb pages have been flooded with a whole bunch of feedback calling for the seal’s killer to be delivered to justice.
The information of Kostis’ demise was reported throughout Europe, in addition to within the US and Australia.
MOm condemned his dying as they supplied a £12,000 reward for details about the wrongdoer.
MOm condemned his dying as they supplied a £12,000 reward for details about the wrongdoer
Monk seals like Kostis (pictured) are extraordinarily uncommon and due to this fact a protected species
They stated in an announcement: ‘Sadly, but once more, it’s confirmed that human wickedness and stupidity haven’t any limits!
‘The harmless and unaware seal was executed at shut vary with a spear gun that had a big spear for precisely that objective!
‘This information was obtained with nice grief and outraged not solely the individuals of MOm (who cared for a number of months for Kostis throughout his rehabilitation), but in addition all of the residents and guests of Alonnisos who had the luck to admire ‘Kostis’ from shut by.
‘We name upon the related authorities to take speedy motion with a purpose to convey the individual(s) liable for this barbarous act to justice.
‘Any citizen who has any details about the incident ought to contact the Port Police authorities instantly.’
To donate to the work of MOm, go to: https://www.mother.gr/house