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Hawaiian Monk Seal2 locationsMammal
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Monachus schauinslandi

Habitat:The Hawaiian monk seal is the only seal native to Hawaii. The majority of the Hawaiian monk seal population can be found around the Northwest Hawaiian Islands but a small and growing population lives around the main Hawaiian Islands. These seals spend two-thirds of their time at sea. Early studies (done at Midway Atoll) concluded that they frequently stayed inside the lagoons as opposed to the deep ocean, because of the larger abundance of fish found in their coral reefs. However, recent use of animal-born video imaging, temperature/depth recorders, and satellite telemetry has shown that monk seals actually spend much more time foraging in deeper water outside the reefs at subphotic depths of 300 metres (160 fathoms) or more. Hawaiian monk seals breed and haul-out on sand, corals, and volcanic rock; sandy beaches are more commonly used for pupping. Due to the immense distance separating the Hawaiian Islands from other land masses capable of supporting the Hawaiian monk seal, its habitat is limited to the Hawaiian Islands.

Description:Its grey coat, white belly, and slender physique distinguish them from their cousin, the harbor seal. The Hawaiian monk seal is part of the Phocidae family, being named so for its characteristic lack of external ears and inability to rotate its hind flippers under the body. The Hawaiian monk seal has a relatively small, flat head with large black eyes, eight pairs of teeth, and short snouts with the nostril on top of the snout and vibrissae on each side. The nostrils are small vertical slits which close when the seal dives underwater. Additionally, their slender, torpedo-shaped body and hind flippers allow them to be very agile swimmers.

Adult males are 300 to 400 pounds (140 to 180 kg) in weight and 7 feet (2.1 m) in length while adult females tend to be slightly larger, at 400 to 600 pounds (180 to 270 kg) pounds and 8 feet (2.4 m) feet in length. When monk seal pups are born, they average 30 to 40 pounds (14 to 18 kg) and 40 inches (1.0 m) in length. As they nurse for approximately six weeks, the grow considerably, eventually weighing between 150 to 200 pounds (68 to 91 kg) by the time they are weaned, while the mother loses up to 300 pounds (140 kg).

Monk seals, like elephant seals, shed their hair and the outer layer of their skin in an annual catastrophic molt. During the most active period of the molt, about 10 days for the Hawaiian monk seal,[13] the seal remains on the beach. The hair, generally dark gray on the dorsal side and lighter silver ventrally, gradually changes color through the year with exposure to atmospheric conditions. Sunlight and seawater cause the dark gray to become brown and the light silver to become yellow-brown, while long periods of time spent in the water can also promote algae growth, giving many seals a green tinge. The juvenile coat of the monk seal, manifest in a molt by the time a pup is weaned is silver-gray; pups are born with black pelage.

Comments:The Hawaiian monk seal is critically endangered,[20] although its cousin species the Mediterranean monk seal (M. monachus) is even rarer, and the Caribbean monk seal (M. tropicalis), last sighted in the 1950s, was officially declared extinct in June 2008.[21] The population of Hawaiian monk seals is in decline. In 2010, it was estimated that only 1100 individuals remained. The Hawaiian monk seal was officially designated as an endangered species on November 23, 1976, and is now protected by the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act. It is illegal to kill, capture or harass a Hawaiian monk seal.

Edited 10/09/12 Source: Wikipedia
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