Hawaiian Monk Seal

Jocelyn Grabow Period 8 5/16/16

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Hawaiian Monk seals live in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. These islands are surrounded by many coral reefs which mean these animals have a big supply of food (NG Hawaiian Monk Seal). The animals thrive in sandy, remote places with tropical beaches and lagoons. The weather is hot and the air is moist (Sea Mammals, 30). Monk seals spend two-thirds of their time at sea. They use waters surrounding atolls, islands, and areas farther offshore on reefs and submerged banks as a safe habitat away from people. Sandy, remote beaches that are surrounded by shallow water is where Hawaiian Monk Seals like to stay when breeding. Kure Atoll, Midway Islands, Pearl and Hermes Reef, Lisianski Island, Laysan Island, and French Frigate Shoals are popular places for Hawaiian Monk Seals to be located in (Hawaiian Monk Seals 2)


Hawaiian Monk Seals are aquatic and terrestrial animals. This means they move on land and in water. In water, they swim. Their streamline fur helps them to move quicker through the water. Their front flippers, do most of the work when it comes to swimming because seals cannot move their back flippers very easily (SD Hawaiian Monk Seal). These seals have the ability to dive up to 1,000 or more feet below sea level (Sea Mammals, 30). On land, Hawaiian Monk Seals stand on their belly and use their front fins to pull themselves around on the sandy beaches. Hawaiian monk seals are most active at night and they swim at night, so this means that they do most of their moving by swimming (SD Hawaiian Monk Seal).
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Body Covering

The body covering depends on the age of the seal and where the seal has been. The back of a Hawaiian monk seal is a dark gray, while the belly and neck is light grey (SD Hawaiian Monk Seal). A regular adult has a silvery gray fur. The baby seal has black fur that lasts up to 6 weeks. The older the seal, the more brown and yellow hues will show on the fur. Sometimes the fur can even have red or green coloring in it from algae growth (Sea Mammals, 30). Their bodies have very little resistance of water and air, which helps them to move faster. Hawaiian monk seals are vertebrates, so they have a back bone (SD Hawaiian Monk Seal).


Hawaiian Monk Seals are carnivores, so they eat only meat. These seals hunt and eat at night because their prey hides in the reefs during the majority of the day. These animals do not travel far distances from their homes to feed. They hunt in coral reefs and lagoons in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (Sea Mammals, 30). These animals are mammals, so they can not stay underwater as long as fish, but they can spend up to 20 minutes or more underwater when they hunt (Hawaiian Monk Seal). They decrease their heartbeats to 15 beats per minute so that they are able to stay underwater over that long period of time(Sea Mammals, 30). Seals mainly eat fish, lobsters, eels, octopus, and crustaceans (SD Hawaiian Monk Seals).


Hawaiian Monk Seals reproduce sexually. Mating takes place in the water. A male and a female seal is required in order to have a pup. First the male attracts the female by roaring during breeding season (Sea Mammals, 30). Once the female has found a mate, the males bite the females by the back, which can sometimes tear the skin and blubber. This shows other males that she is in a partnership. Once the egg is fertilized, the mothers gestation period starts. Gestation is the amount of time the mother carries the baby. For a Hawaiian Monk Seal, this time period is 10-11 months (Hawaiian Monk Seal). Mothers don't eat much during this time period, so they lose about 200 pounds. Mothers usually give birth between the middle of March and May. When the mom gives birth, she only has one seal. The pup weighs 37 pounds and is approximately 3 feet long (SD Hawaiian Monk Seals). The baby seal grows very fast because the seal milk is very thick and very rich (Hawaiian Monk Seal). The baby stays with its mom for 35-40 days. During those days, the mom teaches the pup how to swim, move on land, hunt, and survive. This means that seals' behavior is learned (SD Hawaiian Monk Seals).
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Hawaiian Monk Seals have made quite a few adaptations, although they are not physical adaptations, they are clever and smart. One of those is that they hunt for their prey at night. The reason that they do this is because their prey hides in rocks and coral during the day. Therefore, the seals are not able to reach them. Hawaiian Monks Seals are also not nocturnal. So how do they see at night in order to find their prey? They don't. They use their long white whiskers to smell and detect food. (Sea Mammals, 30). Another adaptation is that they sleep during the day. They live in tropical habitats which means that the climate is hot. When they rest in the moist sand or shallow water, it cools off their skin, lowers metabolic rate and their body temperature (Sea Mammals, 30).
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Other Info

  • Hawaiians call Hawaiian monk seals; "llio holo I ka uaua" or dog that runs in rough waters (NG Hawaiian Monk Seal)
  • these seals are endangered because sharks eat them, they get cause in fishing nets, and population decreases 10% each year (NG Hawaiian Monk Seal)
  • named "Hawaiian monk seals because their folds of skin looks like Monk's Cowl (NG Hawaiian Monk Seal)
  • Sometimes referred to as a living fossil because they have been around for millions of years (NG Hawaiian Monk Seal)
  • live up to 30 years (SD Hawaiian Monk Seal)
  • sometimes killed by diseases (SD Hawaiian Monk Seal)
  • females mature at ages 5-6 (Hawaiian Monk Seals)
  • rarest marine animal in the world (Hawaiian Monk Seals)
  • 2 monk seal species remain (Hawaiian Monk Seals)
  • monk seals are tropical seals (Hawaiian Monk Seals)
  • family- phocidae (Sea Mammals, 30)
  • order-pinnipedia (Sea Mammals, 30)
  • population 1,200-1,500 (Sea Mammals, 30)

Works Cited

"Crustaceans, Lobsters, Crabs and More." Easy Science For KIds. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 May 2016. <http://easyscienceforkids.com/all-about-crustaceans/>.

Defenders of Wildlife Kids' Planet. "Hawaiian Monk Seal." SIRS Discoverer. N.p.: n.p., 2005. N. pag. SIRS Discoverer. Web. 10 May 2016. <http://discoverer.prod.sirs.com/discoweb/disco/do/article?urn=urn%3Asirs%3AUS%3BARTICLE%3BART%3B0000243843>.

"Guppy." World Book. N.p.: n.p., n.d. N. pag. World Book Kids. Web. 11 May 2016. <http://www.worldbookonline.com/kids/home#animalsworld/creatures>.

Hawaiian Monk Seal. N.p.: World Of Animals, n.d. Print. Mammals 3.

"Hawaiian Monk Seal." National Geographic. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 May 2016. <http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/mammals/hawaiian-monk-seal/>.

"Hawaiian Monk Seal." NOAAFISHERIES. NOAAFISHERIES, n.d. Web. 15 May 2016. <http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/mammals/seals/hawaiian-monk-seal.html>.

"Hawaiian Monk Seal." U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 May 2016. <http://www.fws.gov/refuge/Midway_Atoll/wildlife_and_habitat/Hawaiian_Monk_Seal.html>.

Song, Jaymes. "Caribbean Monk Seal Becomes Extinct." Caribbean Monk Seal Becomes Extinct 7 June 2008: n. pag. SIRS Discoverer. Web. 11 May 2016. <http://discoverer.prod.sirs.com/discoweb/disco/do/article?urn=urn%3Asirs%3AUS%3BARTICLE%3BART%3B0000278383>.