Hawaiian Monk Seal

by Kimberly Kido and Kayla Brown, 5th grade

The Hawaiian Monk Seal is considered as an endangered species. There are only two monk seal species still in existence: the Hawaiian monk seal and the Mediterranean monk seal, which is also endangered. A third species, the Caribbean monk seal, has already become extinct.

This mammal lives mostly on the tiny islands and atolls located northwest of Kaua'i, Hawaii. They also live near the Laysan Island, Black Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea. The Hawaiian Monk Seal's diet consists of fish, lobster, octopus, and other marine animals.

The breeding range of the Hawaiian Monk Seal is in the Northwestern Hawaiian islands. Recently, the Hawaiian Monk Seal was recorded breeding at Kure Atoll, Midway Islands, Pearl and Hermes Atoll, and the French Frigate Shoals.

Between March and July, female monk seals come on shore and give birth to one black pup. The pup feeds on its mother's milk for about five weeks. During this time the mother seal does not eat and is always by her pup's side. The mother, before giving birth, can weigh up to 600 pounds. When the pup is a few days old, the mother will take it out on a swimming excursion.

In the 1900's, the monk seal was near extinction, but the numbers slowly increased when the were fully protected. Now, there are over 1,000 Hawaiian Monk Seals. The Hawaiian Monk Seal likes to remain on land and is one of the few mammals of Hawaii that has been extensively studied.

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