Endangered Animals of Hawaii

The Monk Seal


Monk seals range from six to eight feet in length and can weigh up to 600 pounds. Their coats are grayish creamy in color, they also may have shades of green on their coat due to algae. Their backs tend to get darker in age, especially in males. Monk seals have whiskers to sense objects in water. They also have large eyes to see both on land and in the water, but they cannot see colors. To grasp and tear prey, they use their sharp pointed teeth. Monk seals have flippers to move in the water and also on land. Lastly, they contain an abundant layer of blubber which they use to keep them warm in the water, especially at night.


Monks seals are carnivores which means they only eat meat. They are also opportunistic feeders so if their favorite food is not available they eat whatever they can find. Monk seals eat squid, fish, octopus, eel, shrimp, bird and other seals. Monk seals hunt when their prey is most active, at night. It is also more comfortable for them to hunt at night because their blubber keeps their body temperature at a an ideal range. Monk seals are experts at diving, they can dive as deep as 1,313 feet.


Monk seals are located on and around the tropical northwestern islands of Hawaii. They are found in sand pits, lagoon waters up to 120 feet deep, and coral atolls. They hunt, eat, and keep cool in the ocean. The temperature of the waters monk seals swim in is about 77 degrees. They stay in the same areas all year around. Although monk seals sometimes have to swim far from home to find food due to the overfishing of humans.


The monk seal has inherited blubber from artic ancestors. The blubber keeps them warm at night in the water. Monk seals are also nocturnal meaning they sleep during the day and hunt at night. Monk seals haul out on beaches when the water is warmer during the day to rest. They can move fast in the water but not so much on land. Monk seals usually give birth, molt, and rest on land during the day

Endangerment and Critical Information

Monk seals spend all of their lives hauled out on beaches or in the water. Polluting their beaches and their waters have drastically effected the existence of the monk seals. Hotels and houses are being built on many beaches and chemical waste and garbage are being dumped into the ocean. In the past, thousands of monk seals were killed by hunters. Their blubber was used to produce oil, and their fur were made into coats and rugs. There are laws, Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 and the Endangered Species Act of 1973, that prevent people from harming monk seals but that law has been broken many times. It is harder than ever for monk seals to find food due to overfishing. They are also killed by hunters when they interfere with their fishing. Monk seals die from many diseases, some caused by polluted water or poisoned fish. Many monk seals are killed by shark attacks every year, as well. If a monk seal survives a shark attack, most likely it is severely injured.

Conservational Efforts

Many people work hard to protect monk seals, and you can too. Some ways people help is by cleaning beaches and teaching fishermen how to work with monk seals instead of killing them. Anybody is capable of helping monk seals. A couple easy ways to help save monk seals are: keeping your dog on a leash when you go to the beaches where they live, staying a fair distant from a monk seal, and warning others to not disturb them.
Hawaiian monk seal mom and baby


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