Neomonachus Schauinslandi, commonly known as the Hawaiian Monk Seal, it’s called that both for the fact that it typically appears solo or in small parties and for the creases in its outer layer that mimic a monk’s cloak. Native Hawaiians refer to them as a “dog that sprints in rough water” in their respective language.
The Hawaiian Monk Seal is among the most vulnerable seal species in the world, with approximately 1,500 specimens left in the entire population. Among the two monk seal varieties still in existence is the Hawaiian Monk Seal; the other one is the Mediterranean monk seal. The Caribbean monk seal, a third species, no longer exists.
Hawaiian Monk Seal can be distinguished from its relative, the harbor seal, by its thin build, white abdomen, and gray fur. The Hawaiian Monk Seal has no external ears and difficulty bending its rear flippers underneath. They have a tiny, flattened skull with 8 sets of teeth, huge, dark eyes, and a tiny, flat nose.
The Hawaiian monk seal is one of the smallest species of seals, and adult males typically reach lengths of around 7 to 7.5 feet (2.1 to 2.3 meters) and weigh between 400 to 600 pounds (180 to 270 kilograms).
The seal’s nostrils are tiny vertical holes that shut once it submerges. They are also exceptionally fast swimmers thanks to their slim, missile-shaped bodies and rear flippers. The same as elephant seals, Hawaiian Monk Seals undergo a dramatic molt every year in which they lose all of their hair as well as the top layer of skin.
The body type of the Hawaiian Monk Seal is perfect for pursuing fishes, crustaceans, cephalopods, and squids in deep coral beds. While mature seals primarily eat bigger octopus varieties, juveniles and semi-adults prey mainly on smaller cephalopod animals, nighttime octopus species, and eels.
Their exploring flexibility enables them to be opportunistic carnivores that graze on a vast range of readily accessible species, resulting in a diverse diet. Nonetheless, they typically descend a typical 6 minutes to levels about less than 200 ft to graze on the seabed. They can maintain their air for a maximum of 20 minutes and dive upwards of 1,800 ft.
A modest but expanding population of Hawaiian Monk Seal dwells in the vicinity of the Northwest Hawaiian Islands. The majority of this species’ time is spent at sea. As they spend a large portion of their time searching for food beyond the shallow lagoons, they can also employ land vegetation as cover while they rest to shield themselves against UV light, wind, and rainfall along the edge of the shore.
During the months of June to August, when Hawaiian Monk Seal Reproduce, they procreate underwater. Females have one pup per year when they are four years old and are fully mature. Nine months pass throughout the fetus’ development, and birthing typically occurs around March and June. On beaches, the puppies are delivered and nursed for around six weeks.
When nursing, the mother doesn’t take a break or abandon the pup. Afterward, the mother abandons the pup, allowing it to fend for itself, and goes back to the ocean for the very first occasion since the pup was born.
Hawaiian Monk Seals are naturally preyed upon by sharks. Most intriguing, male monk seals occasionally conduct assault attacks during breeding attempts, in which they kill young or females of the same species. Another danger comes from humans, where they have unintentionally become entangled in lines or caught by fishing equipment.
There has also been an issue with monk seals being killed on purpose. The coastlines at which they nurture their young are at risk due to degradation from cyclones and rising seas on the low-lying islands where they reside.
Facts about the Hawaiian Monk Seal
- In the wild, Hawaiian Monk Seals have a lifespan of up to 30 years.
- Hawaiian Monk Seals can get as big as 600 lbs and 7 ft long.
- Hawaiian Monk Seals can swim on a single breath of air for 20-22 minutes.
- Hawaiian Monk Seals can change their color gradually.
- Hawaiian Monk Seals can reach a max depth of 1,900 ft.
Are Hawaiian Monk Seals friendly?
Monk seals typically don’t attack humans unless they feel endangered. If a person gets between a mother seal and her pup, and they perceive such an approach as hostile, then the mother will promptly result to violence against a human.
Can you touch Hawaiian Monk Seals?
Given their delicate nature as an endangered species, legal countermeasures have been put in place to help protect them for as long as possible. Hawaiian Monk Seal harassment or injury is a felony punishable by a fine of as much as $50,000 or by a 5-year jail sentence.
What to do if a Hawaiian Monk Seal approaches you?
It is advised that you keep a safe distance of a minimum of 50 ft to Hawaiian monk seals as well as at least 150 ft if you come across a female monk seal with a pup if there aren’t any indications, ropes, or official personnel nearby. Pets, in particular, can be dangerous as their behavior cannot be predicted.
Why do Hawaiian Monk Seals sleep on the beach?
Hawaiian Monk Seals prefer to rest on beaches primarily because their natural predators (sharks) cannot get to them while on land; also, it’s a behavior meant to conserve energy as much as possible. Also, the land has more variety for them to use their surroundings to shield them from hostile environmental elements.