Planning a vacation to the Hawaiian Islands? Get acquainted with famous monk seals. These are marine mammal known for their plum figure, solitary nature, and reclining attitude. Sadly, it’s among the endangered species of animals. So, once you spot it, you’re not supposed to harass it in any way. Here are 10 remarkable Hawaiian monk seal facts that you’ll surely enjoy reading.
- In Hawaii, the monk seal is known as “llio holo I ka uaua” meaning “dog that runs in rough water”. Other names include na mea hulu (the furry one) and iliokai (sea dog). Scientific name of the creature is Neomonachus schauinslandi.
- As far as their habitat is concerned, monk seals spend two-thirds of their lives in the warm subtropical oceans of Hawaii. They also love basking in the sun on adjacent islands, islets, submerged banks, and farther offshore.
- Their diet primarily consists of fishes, crustaceans, octopuses, eels, squids, shallow reefs, and cephalopods. They capture their prey by diving more than 900 feet deep into the shallow waters of the sea. Their ability to hold breath for up to 20 minutes helps them do this deep-diving effortlessly!
- The average longevity of the seal monk ranges between 25 to 30 years if they successfully surmount the hazards and perils from the ocean and humans.
- The breeding season starts in June and lasts till August taking place mainly offshore. The cycle of birth occurs between March and June. It takes nine months to complete the full gestation period.
- The female mammals devote all their time in fostering up the pups. For the first 5-6 months after the birth of the newborns, the mother monk seal becomes so busy looking after them that it stops eating anything. As a result, it loses upto one third of her body weight.
- Male monk seals can be aggressive enough to exterminate females of their own species in group attacks called “mobbing”. It’s their natural trait and depicts their violent behavior.
- The current Hawaiian monk seal population is estimated to be approximately 1400. Out of them 1100 are found in the Northwestern Hawaii islands while the remaining 300 seals are found around the main Hawaiian Islands. However, in recent years, there’s been an increase in the number of pups in the islands of Oahu, Kauai, and Molokai.
- Human encroachment has brought the marine mammals to the brink of extinction. Overhunting for food sources and oil, are also responsible for dwindling their population. Other reasons behind their disappearance include tiger shark predation, habitat destruction, scarcity and limitation of food, beach disturbance, ocean acidification, sea-level rise, coral bleaching, low levels of genetic variation and subsequent disease, fishermen net entanglement and seaweed.
- Wondering are Hawaiian monk seals friendly or not? Well, they certainly love people. You can also take their photographs using a camera. However, you’ll have to maintain a distance of 150 feet as recommended by The National Oceanic Atmospheric Association ( NOAA).
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