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Hawaiian Monk Seal (Monachus schauinslandi)

Hawaiian monk seal
Hawaiian Monk Seals (Photo: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

The Hawaiian monk seal is one of the world's most endangered seals. Numbering about 1,400 animals, it occurs only in the Hawaiian Archipelago. Most monk seals live in six major colonies (French Frigate Shoals, Laysan Island, Lisianski Island, Pearl and Hermes Reef, the Midway Islands, and Kure Atoll) in the remote, largely uninhabited atolls of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. The dearth of historical records or accounts of monk seals in the main Hawaiian Islands suggests that they have been rare in that area throughout the islands' human history. However, over the past decade, both monk seal sightings and births have increased significantly in the main Hawaiian Islands, raising the possibility that the area could become a more important part of the species' range and enhance future recovery prospects.

Range and Habitat:

Hawaiian Islands

Status under Law:

Endangered (ESA)

Conservation issues:

Direct and indirect fishery interactions, entanglement in marine debris, shark predation, intraspecies aggression by large males, human disturbance on haul-out beaches, contaminants

Physical characteristics:

At Birth At Maturity
Length 1 m
2.1-2.4 m
Weight 16-18 kg
(35-40 lb)
230-270 kg
(510-600 lb)


30 years

Annual Report:

For more information, see the Hawaiian Monk Seal section from the 2002 Annual Report

Download a copy: PDF (224 KB)

Workshop Reports:

Workshop on the Management of Hawaiian Monk Seals on Beaches in the Main Hawaiian Islands

October 29-31, 2002
Kauai Sheraton Resort
Koloa, Kauai, Hawaii

Click here for more information on this workshop

Commission Letters:

To view Commission letters concerning Hawaiian Monk Seals choose a date below

February 28, 2003

Additional Links:

National Marine Fisheries Service – Stock Assessment Reports

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service – Pacific Islands – Hawaiian Monk Seal

National Marine Fisheries Service – Hawaiian Monk Seal

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service – Midway Atoll – Hawaiian Monk Seal


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