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Hawaiian Monk Seal

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The Hawaiian monk seal is an endangered species of earless seal in the Phocidae family that is endemic to the Hawaiian Islands. They are solitary animals, like some monks.

While most seals make their homes in colder climates, Hawaiian monk seals prefer the warm, sandy beaches of the northwestern Hawaiian Islands. photographed from Secret beach at the Ko Olina Resort, Waianae Coast, Oahu, Hawaii

Today, Hawaiian monk seals are endangered &, although many protection efforts are in place, their numbers are believed to have fallen more than ten percent per year since 1989. Photographed from Secret beach at the Ko Olina Resort, Waianae Coast, Oahu, Hawaii

Hawaii Sealife Photography - Its grey coat, white belly, and slender physique distinguish them from their cousin, the harbor seal (Phoca vitulina). The monk seal’s physique is ideal for hunting its prey: fish, lobster, octopus and squid in deep water coral beds. When it is not hunting and eating, it generally basks on the sandy beaches and volcanic rock of the Northwest Hawaiian Islands. The Hawaiian monk seal is part of the family Phocidae, being named so for its characteristic lack of external ears and inability to rotate its hindflippers under the body. The Hawaiian monk seal has a relatively small, flat head with large black eyes, eight pairs of teeth, and short snouts with the nostril on top of the snout and vibrissae on each side. The nostrils are small vertical slits which close when the seal dives underwater. Additionally, their slender, torpedo-shaped body and hind flippers allow them to be very agile swimmers. Adult males are 300 to 400 pounds (140 to 180 kg) in weight and 7 feet (2.1 m) in length while adult females tend to be, on average, slightly larger, at 400 to 600 pounds (180 to 270 kg) and 8 feet (2.4 m) in length. When monk seal pups are born, they average 30 to 40 pounds (14 to 18 kg) and 40 inches (1.0 m) in length. As they nurse for approximately six weeks, the grow considerably, eventually weighing between 150 to 200 pounds (68 to 91 kg) by the time they are weaned, while the mother loses up to 300 pounds (140 kg). Monk seals, like elephant seals, shed their hair and the outer layer of their skin in an annual catastrophic molt. During the most active period of the molt, about 10 days for the Hawaiian monk seal, the seal remains on the beach. The hair, generally dark gray on the dorsal side and lighter silver ventrally, gradually changes color through the year with exposure to atmospheric conditions. Sunlight and seawater cause the dark gray to become brown and the light silver to become yellow-brown, while long periods of time spent in the water can also promote algae growth, giving many seals a green tinge. The juvenile coat of the monk seal, manifest in a molt by the time a pup is weaned is silver-gray; pups are born with black pelage. Many Hawaiian monk seals sport scars from shark attacks or entanglements with fishing gear. Maximum life expectancy is 25 to 30 years. Hawaii Sealife Photography
Hawaiian Monk Seal
Hawaiian Monk Seal
Hawaiian Monk Seal
Hawaiian Monk Seal
Hawaiian Monk Seal
Hawaiian Monk Seal

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