Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Endangered: Hawaiian Monk Seals

The Hawaiin's call them "Ilio-holo-ikauaua" (pronounced ee-lee-o holo ee ka ooa-ooa) meaning "dog that runs in the sea".  At an estimated population of 1,060 the Hawaiin Monk Seal is facing extinction and the population is declining by about 4% per year.

Photo: NOAA News

Threats to Recovery

Despite the fact that Hawaiian monk seals are one contiguous species, the subpopulations in the NWHI and MHI face different threats. In the NWHI, primary threats include food limitation for juveniles, shark predation on juveniles, entanglement in marine debris, male seal aggression on females and juveniles, and shoreline habitat loss. Threats in the MHI include disease and various types of human-induced impacts, such as disturbance at haul-out areas, fishery interactions, feeding and other interactions that cause habituation to humans, and most recently, intentional killings.  National Oceanic and Atomospheric Administration (NOAA)
(NWHI - North West Hawaiin Islands; MHI - Main Hawaiin Island )
 How can we help?
These guidelines from NOAA are relevant to both people who live on the Hawaiin Islands and for tourists:

  • Don’t feed seals or discard old bait or scraps into the water
  • If you encounter a seal, take a short break or change locations
  • Reduce seal attractants in the water
  • Use a barbless circle hook
  • Follow the State of Hawaii lay gill net rules for your area

This one is Nanny's favourite. I would definitely help out with this:
Participate in the Semi-annual Monk Seal Count. You can help the monk seal researchers assess the population of this endangered species by counting seals on beaches across all the main Hawaiian Islands.  For more information about this year’s dates and how to volunteer, contact your island's Marine Mammal Response Coordinator.
To create awareness, grab the badge to the right for your blog or website.

Prevent the Event
Marine Conservation Institute


  1. Mommy had a close encounter with a very sweet Hawaiian Monk Seal when she was diving years ago. They are gentle souls...and GINORMOUS! HUGE! This one came right up to her and hugged her before she could swim off. Here's hoping they are able to keep them from extinction!