Jordan Wright

Hawaiian Monk Seal

Monachus schauinslandi

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Hawaiian monk seals are found in remote Northwestern Hawaiian islands. These islands are surrounded by coral reefs, which are good places for them to hunt for food. The Hawaiian monk seal diet consists of bottom-dwelling fish, reef fish, eel, octopus, squid, and crustaceans. Their average life span is from 25 to 30 years, and weigh anywhere from 400 to 600 pounds. Female seals only give birth to one pup per year, and they come on land to do it. Sharks are one of the seal’s natural predators. These mammals can dive 600 feet deep, and can stay under water for up to 20 minutes. Sometimes these seals will stay out to see for as long as a month. This animal’s niche is shallow waters, lagoons, and open seas.

For the last 20 years the Hawaiian monk seal population has been declining. There are only about 1200 left. Some of the many threats to this species making it become extinct are entanglement in marine debris, disturbance by people, aggression by older males, predation by sharks, disease or injury from dogs, and lack of food.

There are many ways to solve this problem, but it is up to humans to do what is needed. Hawaii has taken the first step and set up protection programs for these seals. A couple are the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). Reducing pollution and keeping our beaches clean will also aid in the movement to help save Hawaiian monk seals from becoming extinct.