A young Hawaiian monk seal on the shore of Kure Atoll in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (Photo: NOAA Fisheries).
NOAA Fisheries announces a status update on the Hawaiian monk seal population for 2017 with some positive signs for recovery as well as some persistent threats.
Hawaiian monk seals are found only in Hawai‘i. Their population stretches across the archipelago from Hawai‘i Island, throughout Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, to Kure Atoll. Population trends and threats differ from place to place across this large range.
Several Hawaiian monk seals on a small islet in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (Photo: NOAA Fisheries).
Threats in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands include food limitation, shark predation (particularly at French Frigate Shoals), aggressive male seals, and entanglement in marine debris. The "big three" threats facing monk seals in the main Hawaiian Islands are toxoplasmosis, trauma, and interactions with shorecasting fishing gear and lay gill nets.
Hawaiian monk seal rests on the beach entangled in a derelict fishing net (Photo: NOAA Fisheries).
NOAA Fisheries makes great efforts to intervene and mitigate threats to monk seal survival.
Hook removed from Hawaiian monk seal (Photo: NOAA Fisheries).
Heralded as “The Year of the Monk Seal,” 2017 brought a surge of community involvement in monk seal stewardship that is encouraging to the species’ conservation.
Hawaiian monk seal field camp in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (Photo: NOAA Fisheries).