Hawaiian monk seal

Monachus schauinslandi / ‘Īlio-holo-i-ka-uaua
Hawaiian monkseal 520x289
‘Īlio-holo-i-ka-uaua are among the most critically endangered mammals in the world. Less than 1,200 seals are alive today. Most seals live in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI), but there is a small and potentially growing population in the main Hawaiian Islands. The NWHI are very remote and are either uninhabited or have little impact by humans, thus providing an ideal habitat for these easily disturbed creatures. The coral reefs found around these atolls and islands provide the monk seal with its food supply: lobster, eels, small octopus, and reef fishes. Their enemies include humans, sharks, diseases, attacks from their own species, and marine debris such as lost fishing nets and plastic products.

They spend most of their time in the ocean but like to rest on sandy beaches, and sometimes use beach vegetation as shelter from wind and rain. Females haul-out on shore for up to 7 weeks to give birth and nurse their pups. Pups and moms stay ashore until weaned. Gestation is approximately 1 year. Pupping occurs in late winter and spring. 

An adult monk seal is usually dark gray or brown with a light gray or yellow belly. Adults can weigh anywhere from 375 to 500 pounds; adult females are generally larger than males. Pups are jet black and usually weigh 25 to 30 pounds at birth and weigh up to 132 to 198 pounds within five to six weeks.

Monk seals are expert swimmers and divers; one seal was recorded diving into depths in the range of 66 and 96 fathoms (396 to 576 feet). The average monk seal dives 51.2 times per day. The life span of the Hawaiian monk seal is from 25-30 years.

The monk seal's common name is derived from its folds of skin that look like a monk's hood, and because it spends most of its time alone or in very small groups. Its Hawaiian name means “the dog that runs in the rough seas.

Factors which threathen the persistence and recovery of monk seal populations include food limitation, competition with fisheries, oceanographic change, competition with other predators, entanglement, shark predation, and infectious disease. Although not directly responsible for monk seal mortality, human activities on beaches, even at low levels, can cause monk seals to abandon haul-out areas. Such disturbance is particularly disruptive to mother-pup pairs. 

Facts About Hawaiian monk seal


 Lobster, eels, small octopus, and reef fishes


The majority of the Hawaiian monk seal population can be found around the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands but a small and growing population lives around the main Hawaiian Islands