Today, more than 30 years later, it has the unfortunate status as the most endangered pinniped in the United States. Over the last 30 years, significant efforts have been made to enhance the recovery of the species, but its population has declined at a rate of 4% per year for the past decade, and there are now fewer than 1,100 Hawaiian monk seals left in existence. Moreover, a newborn monk seal has only a 1-in-5 chance of surviving to adulthood. This is dismal news for a species found only in Hawaii and that has been in existence for more than 13 million years. In the video below, Dr. Frances Gulland, Director of Veterinary Science at The Marine Mammal Center, explains the many challenges these critically endangered seals face today.
Of the 1,100 Hawaiian monk seals alive today, 100 are in the Main Hawaiian Islands, and 1,000 are in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands. For reasons such as shark predation, food shortages and marine debris, the monk seals on the Northwest Hawaiian Islands are having a harder time than their counterparts on the Main Islands. However, the seals on the Main Islands are also increasingly victims of marine debris and other negative human interactions, such as gun shots and harassment.
On June 8, 2010, a new bill was signed into law by the Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii that makes it a felony to harm a Hawaiian monk seal, and imposes fines up to $50,000 for those who commit crimes against monk seals.
This new law is a great sign of the commitment Hawaii is making toward the protection of the monk seal. But Hawaii needs our help to do something else to help save these seals.
Help save Hawaiian monk seals today!
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