Frequently Asked Questions about Hawaiian Monk Seals

Q: Where do they live?

A: The Hawaiian monk seal is endemic to Hawaii. This means it is native to Hawaii and found nowhere else in the world. The largest portion of the population lives in the northwest chain of islands. Monk seals are the only Tropical water seal species, so all other pinnipeds (seals, sea lions, walrus) live in cold waters.

Q: What do they eat? How much do they eat?

A: They eat reef fish, bottom fish, eels, octopus, squid, and crustaceans. The seals hunt for food outside the immediate shoreline areas, primarily in the region that is 60-300 feet deep. They typically eat between 3% to 8% of their body weight per day.

Q: How much do they weigh? How big are they?

A: An adult Hawaiian monk seal can weigh on average between 400 to 600 pounds and grow to 6 to 8 feet in length.

Q: How long do they live?

A: The Hawaiian monk seal can live to be 25 to 30 years old.


Q: How well do monk seals hear?

A: Monk seals have an acute sense of hearing. This is one of the many reasons it's important to be quiet when observing a monk seal.

Q: What are the common threats to the seal today?

A: Common threats are human disturbance, predation by sharks, lack of suitable habitat, food limitation, entanglement in marine debris, accidentally getting hooked with fishing gear, the potential for dog-seal interactions and infectious disease.

Q: Are monk seals friendly?

A: The word friendly is a human characteristic. Monk seals are curious and inquisitive but these behaviors should not be mistaken as being friendly. We need to remember they are a wild animals and observe them in a safe and responsible manner if we encounter one in the wild. You can learn more by reading our responsible viewing guidelines.


Q: How can I help?

A: There are numerous ways you can get involved in saving this very special animal from extinction. Read our taking action guide for suggestions on ways you can make a positive difference!
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