Endangered Animals in Hawaii

Hawaiian Monk Seals


This gray-colored mammal thrives in the uninhabited Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. The adults can grow up to 7 feet long and 600 lbs. in weight. They are the only seals found year-round in tropical waters. The pups are silky black at birth, and grow into animals with cream-colored undersides and grey-silver skin on their backs, which turns black with age. (ARKive)

Food Chain/Habitat

Hawaiian Monk Seals eat a variety of fish, including eels, octopi, and squid. They forage underwater at around 100 meters deep, but are known to dive 500 meters under sea level to find food. The main predators of seals are sharks. Being nocturnal animals, they are not very active in the day and spend their time hauled-out on undisturbed beaches. These seals live mostly around the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands in the coral atolls, reefs, beaches, and submerged banks, and stay in cool waters to cope with the tropical heat. (EEC website)


Monk Seals have not significantly adapted to their environment, although they have developed larger eyes for diving deeper, and -- as adults -- have the ability to slow their heart rate to lower their need for oxygen. They are protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), and are given "Critical Habitat" designated for these seals. If you spot a seal hauled-out on a beach, please stay at least 150 feet away, for they will abandon their usual pupping and haul-out areas, and even their pups, at any distractions. Also, please keep from discarding garbage in the water, as many sea animals die due to accidental choking on plastic objects. (NG)
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Hawaiian Monk Seals are endangered for many reasons, including hunting by humans in the 1800's, entanglement in fishing marine debris, accidental hooking, loss of habitat, shark predation, competition for food, and reef poisoning. Commercial sealing in the 1800's nearly wiped out the entire species. Now, however, the colonies are surveyed and the population is counted by the NMES. A coral reef ecosystem reserve was established in 2000, a lobster fishery was closed in the same year to prevent a lack of food, and the Hawaiian Monk Seal has been listed on the endangered animals list since 1976. (Earth Trust)
Hawaiian Monk Seal Pup

Credit to Images

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