The Hawaiian monk seal
The Hawaiian monk seal
The Hawaiian monk seal belongs to the family of Phociadae or earless seals. It is an endangered species and one of the two remaining monk of its family. The native Hawaiians call them “Ilio-holo-i-ka-uaua” which means “dog that runs in rough water”. It's scientific name is “Monachus schainslandi” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawaiian_monk_seal).
Phocidae family (Earless seal)
The Hawaiian monk seal is a member of the Phocidae family. His cousin the Mediterranean monk seal, which is highly endangered and his other cousin the Caribbean monk seal is already extinct. As typically for an earless seal, the Hawaiian monk seal has a lack of external ears so they hear trough small holes on either side of their head. They use their hind flippers as a rudder or as an aid in steering underwater. On land they are unable to rotate their hind flippers, so its difficult for them to move on land, they have to some kind of wiggle to move forward. (http://www.earthtrust.org/wlcurric/seals.html)
Habitat and Feeding
The Hawaiian monk seal is the only seal native to Hawaii and the only seal living in the Central Pacific. The majority of the seals are found on the Northwest Hawaiian Islands. There is also a small but growing population on the main Hawaiian Islands . They spend two-thirds of the day at the sea.(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawaiian_monk_seal). Hawaiian monk seals inhabitant reefs, shallow lagoons, oceans and beaches. They use the sandy beach for resting, molting, mating and rearing the young. (http://www.defenders.org/hawaiian-monk-seal/basic-facts). Besides sandy beaches, they also rest on volcanic rocks. Because they live in areas without any people around, they never learn to fear people, so they are easily approachable and disturbed. Because of the immense distance to the nearest land, the Hawaiian monk seals habitat is limited to the Hawaiian Islands. They avoid beaches where they are disturbed and since Hawaii is a popular island its not easy for them anymore to find beaches. (http://www.earthtrust.org/wlcurric/seals.html) The main prey of an Hawaiian monk seal is bony fish, cephalopods and crustaceans. Subadults often prefer small octopus and eels, while adults prefer larger octopi species. They swallow the head first to not get hurt by fins or spines. (http://www.earthtrust.org/wlcurric/seals.html) Scars from shark attacks or entangles with fishing gear are often found on their body. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawaiian_monk_seal)
Hawaiian monk seals have a grey coat and a white belly. Their head is small and flat with large black eyes and eight pairs of teeth, a short snouts with nostril on top and whiskers on each side. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawaiian_monk_seal). Nostrils are small verticals slits. They close them when they dive underwater. Their physique is ideal for hunting and their slender, torpedo-shaped body with its hind flippers make them very agile swimmers.(http://www.earthtrust.org/wlcurric/seals.html). The grey coat is covered with either dark grey or brown hairs, which change colors, because of the sunlight and the seawater. The dark grey hair turns into brown and the brown turns into a yellow-brown. At the annual molt they shed their hair and the outer layer of their skin. During the molt, which is about 10 days long the seals remain on the beach. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawaiian_monk_seal). Male adults weight between three hundred and four hundred pounds and are about seven feet long. Female adults weight between four hundred and six hundred pounds and up to eight feet long. (http://www.defenders.org/hawaiian-monk-seal/basic-facts.
The breeding season is between December and August. During the breeding season, the seals mate in the water. Females become mature at the age of six. Every year around sixty percent of all females give birth...
Ellis, Richard No Turning Back: The Life and Death of Animal Species. New York: Harper Perennial. p.194
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