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Posted at November 7, 2020

Efforts by the Hawai’i Department of Land and Natural Resources have focused on response support and community outreach and education, especially outreach to fishermen and other local ocean users. Seal's behavior—including interactions with people and other animals. Fish stock decline in the Caribbean starved the remaining populations. Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by a parasite that enters the environment via cat feces and can be transmitted to seals via contaminated water or prey. Continuing vaccination research and response planning. There is also the threat of emergent diseases that have yet to make it to Hawai'i. With the opening of the Hawaii Island facility, rehabilitation has become an option for more seals. However, translocating newly weaned pups to areas with less shark predation has proven beneficial to pup survival. They tend to avoid beaches where they are disturbed; after continual disturbance, the seals may completely abandon the beach, thus reducing habitat size, subsequently limiting population growth. NOAA Fisheries uses innovative science to explore monk seal biology and interactions with humans and the environment, and apply the best available science to guide our management and recovery plans for monk seals. While numbers have increased since 2013, the long-term decline in abundance at the six main Northwestern Hawaiian Islands sites—French Frigate Shoals, Laysan Island, Lisianski Island, Pearl and Hermes Reef, Midway Atoll, and Kure Atoll—remains concerning. This initiative is a concerted, agency-wide effort to spotlight and save the most highly at-risk marine species. Monitoring monk seal pupping and molting events. Hawaiian monk seals and toxoplasmosis—infographic and frequently asked questions. Caribbean monk seals were also known to have algae growing on their pelages, giving them a slightly greenish appearance, which is similar to Hawaiian monk seals. Males are massive, weighing up to 8,500 lbs. They are thought to be polygynous, with males being very territorial where they mate with females. [38] As early as 1688, sugar plantation owners sent out hunting parties to kill hundreds of seals every night for blubber oil to lubricate machinery. The largest is the southern elephant seal. Although no breeding season exists, since births take place year round, a peak occurs in October and November. They usually sleep on beaches, sometimes for days at a time. Directly, the seal can become snared by fishing equipment, entangled in discarded debris, and even feed on fish refuse. [25], The Hawaiian monk seal has the lowest level of genetic variability among the 18 pinniped species, allegedly due to a population bottleneck caused by intense hunting in the 19th century. Young seals are called pups, are jet black and range from 25 pounds at birth up to 200 pounds at six weeks. [22]:104–105 Their typical lifespan is 25 to 30 years. Learn more about Survival Research and Enhancement for Hawaiian Monk Seals. Adults were darker than the paler and more yellowish younger seals. Monk seals as a whole vary minutely in size, with all adults measuring on average 8 feet (2.4 m) and 500 pounds (230 kg). After decades of precipitous decline, the population is finally growing at an average rate of about 2 percent per year since 2013. Beaches that are popular for human recreation are increasingly used by monk seals for "hauling out" (resting) and molting, and some female monk seals are also pupping on popular recreational beaches. Some individuals may be using coastal areas along other parts of Western Sahara, such as in Cintra Bay. Promising advances in juvenile seal survival enhancement research. The primary diseases of concern to monk seals include distemper viruses (morbillivirus), West Nile virus, leptospirosis, and toxoplasmosis. On their bellies, a white stripe occurs, which differs in color between the two sexes. All three monk seal species were classified in genus Monachus until 2014, when comparison of the species' mitochondrial cytochrome b DNA sequences led biologists to place the Caribbean and Hawaiian species in a new genus, Neomonachus. Disentangling seals and removal of marine debris from beaches and marine habitat. [21], Mediterranean monk seals are diurnal and feed on a variety of fish and mollusks, primarily octopus, squid, and eels, up to 6.5 pounds (2.9 kg) per day. Disease, Males were probably slightly larger than females, which is similar to Mediterranean monk seals. [4][5], Fossils of the Mediterranean and Caribbean species are known from the Pleistocene. Reduce impacts from compromised and grounded vessels. In the first five years, we have taken important steps toward stabilizing this species and preventing its further decline. Since the the original critical habitat designation, new information became available regarding monk seal habitat use revealing that monk seals forage at greater depths than previously thought and that they successfully utilize habitat in the main Hawaiian Islands. Responding to sick, entangled, hooked, and/or injured seals. There are inherent challenges to conserving and recovering the Hawaiian monk seal across such an expansive and remote area, especially with a range of ecological and anthropogenic threats affecting the population. The skin color of the adults used to be darker than the younger ones. The designation prohibited lobster fishing in the northwest Hawaiian Islands and Laysan Island. This work is funded in part via an ESA Section 6 Program grant. Monitoring health, including disease, parasitic infection, and toxin screening. They prefer hunting in wide-open spaces, enabling them to use their speed more effectively. Monk seals require this rest to thrive in the wild,” the joint statement from NOAA’s Pacific Islands Regional Office and the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center said. The major actions in the recovery plan are: Investigate and mitigate factors affecting food limitation. [11], The habitat of the Mediterranean monk seal has changed over the years. [33], Cabo Blanco, in the Atlantic Ocean, is the largest surviving single population of the species, and the only remaining site that still seems to preserve a colony structure. [29], To raise awareness of the species' plight, on June 11, 2008, a state law designated the Hawaiian monk seal as Hawaii's official state mammal. The designation of an area as critical habitat does not create a closed area, marine protected area, refuge, wilderness reserve, preservation, or other conservation area; nor does the designation affect land ownership. C. a biome. Launching the first-ever effort to vaccinate a wild population for morbillivirus and vaccinated over 700 monk seals. Reporting ensures that professional responders and scientists know about it and can take appropriate action. Reel in your line if monk seals are near. Monk seals are part of the family Phocidae (earless seals), the members of which are characterized by their lack of external ears, the inability to rotate the hind flippers under the body, and shed their hair and the outer layer of their skin in an annual molt. [42] Little was done to protect the Caribbean monk seal; by the time it was placed on the endangered species list in 1967, it was likely already extinct.[37]. Green sea turtles and a Hawaiian monk seal at Mokumanamana in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. NOAA Fisheries manages the Network in partnership with several government agencies, including the Hawai'i Department of Land and Natural Resources, the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the National Park Service. Angela Amlin, Hawaiian Monk Seal Recovery Coordinator. Photo: NOAA Fisheries/Steven Gnam. Our work includes: Please report monk seal sightings by contacting your local stranding network, or sending an email to pifsc.monksealsighting@noaa.gov. [23] Human disturbances have had immense effects on the populations of the Hawaiian monk seal. Learn more about the Ke Kai Ola facility's work. In 2006, a Presidential proclamation established the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, which incorporated the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve, the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, the HINWR, and the Battle of Midway National Memorial, thus creating the largest marine protected area in the world and affording the Hawaiian monk seal further protection. The facility opened a new chapter in Hawaiian monk seal conservation and recovery. When compared to the body, the animal's foreflippers were relatively short with little claws and the hindflippers were slender. One is the Aegean Sea (250–300 animals in Greece, with the largest concentration of animals on Gyaros,[31] and some 100 in Turkey); the other important subpopulation is the Western Saharan portion of Cabo Blanco (around 200 individuals which may support the small, but growing, nucleus in the Desertas Islands – roughly 20 individuals[16]). They have a broad, flat snout with nostrils on the top. Its current very sparse population is one more serious threat to the species, as it only has two key sites that can be deemed viable. Non-Lethal Efforts to Deter Shark Predation of Monk Seal Pups - Monk seal pups at French Frigate Shoals are heavily preyed upon by Galapagos sharks, but it’s unclear if non-lethal efforts to deter this behavior are effective. Hawaiian monk seal females reach a length of 2.3m and weigh up to 273kg; males are slightly smaller, measuring up to 2.1m and weighing about 230kg. Economic Importance for Humans: Negative. Reduce male aggression toward pups/immature seals and adult females. In the NWHI, seals must compete for food with large populations of other apex predators, such as large jacks (carangids) and sharks. They do not target most of the locally popular gamefish species such as ulua (giant trevally), pāpio (baby ulua), and ‘ō‘io (bonefish). 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