Hawaiian Monk Seal

Hawaiian Monk Seal

Hawaiian Monk Seal – Monachus schauinslandi

Description

You will find that the overall physical appearance of the Hawaiian Monk Seal makes it look much different from the other species of seals. They have a very light gray coloring to their bodies. The head and the flippers are a darker gray or brownish in color. Some of them feature silver coloring as they get older too.

Distribution

You will find that the Hawaiian Monk Seal lives along the waters of Hawaii. Viewing them is a common pastime of the many tourists and locals around the area. They are well respected by the people of Hawaii. The females are quite a bit larger than the males with this species of seals. Females average about 600 pounds with the males tipping the scales at about 400 pounds. Females are about 8 feet long with males slightly shorter around 7 feet.

Behavior

The fact that this species of seal prefers to live alone or with a few others is part of how it got the “monk” part of its name. They seem to be enjoying the sunny beaches just as much as the tourists. They are often found basking in the warm tropical sun during the daylight hours. Then they hunt for food at night.

They are amazing swimmers which allows them to move around very easily in the water. They also have great vision so they have no trouble at all finding the food they are interested in. They are very quiet types of seals unless it is breeding season. During that period of time they will gather and then afterwards go back to their solitary lifestyles.

Diet /Feeding

Along the coast of Hawaii there is quite a bit of selection when it comes to food for the Hawaiian Monk Seal. Some of their favorites include fish, lobster, eels, and even octopus. They generally don’t have too much trouble finding enough food unless there have been tropical storms that come along and upset the natural balance of things in the area.

Reproduction

The reproduction process is one that is extremely aggressive for all involved. First, the males are aggressive towards each other and fight to mate with the females. Then the males can be aggressive with the females that they wish to make with. Many of the older females have bite marks and other scars that are a result of the mating process.

A huge problem is that there are many more males than females with this type of seal. Many females don’t survive the mating process if too many males are pursuing here. Some of the very young female pups can also be attacked by the males even though they aren’t mature to mate yet if there aren’t enough females around to satisfy them.

Pups are approximately 35 pounds at birth and they can be up to 3 feet in length as well.  The mothers won’t leave the pup for the first six weeks of life. This means they don’t feed and so they can lose several hundred pounds.

Conservation

The Hawaiian Monk Seal is currently endangered in spite of the conservation efforts out there. In fact, they are number one on the list of seals when it comes to them being in jeopardy of extinction. There are less than 1,100 of them remaining and that is very scary. As a result it is illegal to harm such an animal in any way.

On average, this type of seal can survive for about 25 years in the wild. In order to help them achieve that, Hawaii has been doing all it can to raise awareness about the needs of these seals. They even officially made it their state mammal in 2008. Many of the Hawaiian Monk Seals have been injured or killed due to the fishing nets out there.