The Hawaiian Monk Seal is among the most endangered animals in the world. Despite efforts to protect and save this marine mammal, the overall population is declining by 4% per year. Endemic to Hawaii, it is one of the oldest species of seals on earth — some suggest it may have lived in the Hawaiian archipelago up to 14 million years ago.
The protection of the Hawaiian Monk Seal falls under the jurisdiction of NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service, Protected Resources Division. Their website provides links to detailed information regarding the Hawaiian Monk Seal’s history, taxonomy, reproduction, habitat, conservation efforts, and suggestions for what we can all do to help protect and save this seal from extinction. An article that I have found particularly useful (and even fascinating when it comes to Hawaiian history, language and cultural knowledge) is Kittinger et al’s “Sociocultural significance of the endangered Hawaiian Monk seal.
Hopefully these links will be helpful to those who are as curious as I am about the ‘ilio-o-ke-kai (one of many of the Hawaiian names for Monachus schauinislandi)