The Hawaiian Monk Seal: Hawaii’s Prized Animal
The Hawaiian monk seal is a highly valued animal in Hawaii. This creature has been around for centuries and, even though their population numbers are dwindling, they still hold a place of honor in the hearts of many Hawaiians. In this blog post, we will discuss the monk seal’s history with humans and how it came to be so important to Hawaiians.
The Importance Of The Hawaiian Monk Seal
The Hawaiian monk seal is an ancient species that has been around for thousands of years native to Hawaii. In Hawaiian culture, the monk seal is considered a highly intelligent and graceful creature. They are also deeply respected for their role in Hawaiian mythology as guardians over human souls after death, which is why Hawaiians consider them so valuable.
The population of these creatures has been decreasing rapidly since the 1950s when there were about 12,000 living around Hawaii.
Catching A Glimpse Of The Hawaiian Monk Seal
In Hawaiian culture, seeing a Hawaiian monk seal is considered a good omen, but it is also rare. These creatures tend to avoid people and prefer secluded beaches away from humans.
However, there are places where you can see the Hawaiian monk seal in their natural habitat and admire it from a distance.
How To See A Hawaiian Monk Seal
Getting to see a glimpse of the beautiful and endangered Hawaiian monk seal is an amazing experience for all who make the journey. This animal can be spotted on beaches or in shallow waters.
Kauai is a great place to see the Hawaiian monk seal. This is because it has one of the largest populations of these animals in Hawaii due to the feeding grounds being fairly close and, thanks to its protected beaches, they are easier to spot here than anywhere else around Oahu or Maui.
Usually, the best places to see them are Poipu beach or the Na Pali Coast, and if you’re lucky you may even get to see them feed on a Kauai boat tour!
How Close Can You Get To A Hawaiian Monk Seal
Just like the other wildlife that you encounter when visiting Hawaii, or even more so, we ask that you respect these animals and give them space to go about their normal habits.
Do not approach a Hawaiian monk seal if you see one on the beach or in the water, especially if they are sleeping as this can be very dangerous to frighten them and may push them into the water without their needed rest.
If you happen to get near one on accident DO NOT touch it. This is illegal and you can face up to 5 years in prison with a $50,000 fine.
It is recommended that you stay at least 50 feet away from the Hawaiian Monk seal (150 feet if seal pups are present).
Hawaiian Monk Seal Facts
Hawaiian monk seals can grow up to seven feet long and weigh on average between 400-600 pounds.
These creatures have a relatively short life span of 30 years in the wild, and they have been a part of the Hawaiian ecosystem for thousands of years.
The Hawaiian monk seal is one of the rarest species on Earth with only an estimated 1500 living throughout all islands today, making them critically endangered and at risk for extinction.
They typically feed on urchins and small fish such as eels or octopus (which they can hold in their mouths for up to 30 minutes) but will eat a variety of food depending on what’s available.
The Hawaiian monk seal is a solitary animal that lives alone except when mating.
Hawaiian Monk Seals Today
Today the Hawaiian monk seal is slowly growing in population thanks to various conservation efforts. The population today is still approximately a third of previous historical estimates.
This is a great sign that things are headed in the right direction for this fascinating creature however until recently their numbers were rapidly declining.
Visit Kauai And See The Hawaiian Monk Seal
If you are planning a trip to Kauai, make sure you bring your camera and binoculars along because seeing these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat is one of the once-in-a-lifetime experiences that everyone should have at least once! While you are here, schedule a Kauai boat tour and you may even see them feeding!