Hawaiian Monk Seal Facts
- The informative term of Hawaiian Monk Seal represents the common name for a particularly awesome species of earless seal. Its scientific name, meanwhile, remains that of the virtually unpronounceable term of Neomonachus schauinslandi.
- Its technical name may be almost impossible to remember, but certain facts about it remain nearly impossible to forget. One of those is the lamentable fact that this beautiful animal now forms one of only two remaining monk seal species.
- A third member of this grouping, named the Caribbean Monk Seal, now appears to be extinct. The first official recognition of this animal as a separate species occurred in the year 1899, at the hands of the German scientist, Hugo Schauinsland.
- Quite sadly, its population also appears to be in a steep decline. Current official estimates place its surviving numbers at roughly 1,400 individuals. As a result, the IUCN presently lists the Hawaiian Monk Seal as Endangered on its Red List.
- Since the creature inhabits a small, specific range, this number remains highly concerning. Potential habitat loss obviously forms a very serious concern. Its greatest threat, though, most likely comes in the form of the effects of climate change.
Hawaiian Monk Seal Physical Description
The beautiful Hawaiian Monk bears a strong resemblance to its cousins, but distinguishing characteristics do exist. It does, however, naturally share many of the same characteristics. Among these remains the fact that it displays a moderate degree of sexual dimorphism.
In the case of this particular animal, that trait manifests itself in terms of sheer physical size. Adult males of this incredible creature attain an average body length of roughly 7 ft (2.1 m). These also weigh an average of between 300 – 400 lb (140 – 180 kg).
The females of the species, though, generally reaches a somewhat larger size. Unlike the male, she typically grows to around 8 ft (2.4 m) in length. Her weight, meanwhile, usually averages significantly greater, measuring at around 400 – 600 lb (180 – 270 kg).
Otherwise, the two genders appear very much the same. This specific pinniped possesses an overall slender shape. The animal also has a comparatively small, flat-shaped head, with large black eyes. It further has a shorter snout than some related species.
In coloring, the magnificent Hawaiian Monk Seal generally presents an overall grayish color. This does, however, typically tend to be a darker shade on the upper side, and lighter on the lower side. This does often slowly change to a brownish as it ages.
- Kingdom: Animali
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Mammalia
- Order: Carnivora
- Family: Phocidae
- Genus: Neomonachus
- Species: N. schauinslandi
Hawaiian Monk Seal Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
Like some species, the very name of the wonderful Hawaiian Monk Seal provides a significant clue to its habitat range. Understandably, then, this fabulous creature inhabits a very specific, and in some ways limited, portion of the oceans of the world.
As the name implies, this mammal inhabits the waters around what we now call the Hawaiian Islands. This location, part of the United States, also seems to be the only area in which it appears. For the moment, evidence indicates that it never lived anywhere else.
More specifically, the majority of individuals appear to be concentrated in two distinct groupings. One group lives around the main islands of the chain. The other, though, lives around the various small islets and atolls that lie northwest of those main islands.
Roughly two-thirds of the life of the animal is spent at sea. This area principally consists of moderate depths, though. Most commonly the animal spends much of its time at depths of 984 ft (300 m) or more. It usually only comes to land to sun itself or to breed.
Quite understandably, the gorgeous Hawaiian Monk Seal evolved as a carnivore. Its prey mainly includes a variety of bony fish species that live on or around reefs. It does, however, also consume a moderate amount of smaller cephalopods and crustaceans.