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This is La'akea, a Hawaiian Monk Seal, one of the rarest marine mammals in the world. She is three years old and a frequent visitor to the north shore of Oahu. Hawaiian Monk Seals are one of the most endangered marine mammals in the world with a population of less than 1100 and are declining by 4% every year. Monk seals are native to Hawaii and are not found anywhere else in the world. Its grey coat, white belly, and slender physique distinguish them from their cousin, the harbor seal. When it is not hunting and eating, it generally basks on sandy beaches. Adult females weigh approximately 400-600 lbs.
Hawaiian monk seals occur throughout the Hawaiian Island chain. While sightings were previously rare in the main Hawaiian Islands, monk seals are now regularly seen there and births have been documented on all of the major islands. Hawaiian monk seals are non-migratory, and tend to remain near the atoll where they were born. However, some seals will relocate temporarily or permanently to other sites in the island chain, and long distance wanderers have been recorded.
Hawaiian monk seals are protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), and state law in Hawaii. It is illegal to interfere, harass or disturb them. PLEASE give them due respect and keep your distance if you see them on the beach.