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Hawaiian Monk Seal

Monachus schauinslandi

Hawaiian monk seals are known as the “most primitive of living seals.” They have streamlined bodies which make them good swimmer. Their front and back limbs are flipper-like – the front flippers, which have five digits, are smaller than the back flippers. The hind flippers cannot be turned forward, so to move on land, the seals must wiggle them. In the water, Hawaiian monk seals propel themselves by moving their hind flippers and using their front flippers as rudders. They are dark gray on their back side and silvery gray on their stomachs.

hawaiian monk seal picture

Length 7 feet (males); up to 7.5 feet (females)
Weight 400 lbs (males); up to 600 lbs (females)

Lifespan Up to 30 years, but generally live up to between 20-25 years.


Fish, octopus, squid, and lobster.


As of 2006, 1300-1400


The Hawaiian monk seal occurs only in the Central Pacific, in the mostly uninhabited northwestern Hawaiian Islands, with a small breeding population inhabiting the main Hawaiian Islands.


Hawaiian monk seals inhabit reefs, shallow lagoons, open ocean and beaches. They commonly haul out on sandy beaches. Hawaiian monk seals do not have special physical adaptations to deal with the warm climate in which they live. Instead, they remain inactive during the heat of the day, finding a resting spot with shade or wet sand. They are solitary animals both on land and in the water. The Hawaiian monk seal evolved in an area without people or other land predators. Therefore, it did not learn to fear people and is easily approachable and disturbed.

Mating Season
 Between December and mid-August.
Gestation Approximately 1 year.
Litter Size 1 pup
Pups are about three feet long and weigh about 35 pounds when they are born. They stay with their mothers for 35 to 40 days while they nurse. During this time the mother gives the pup swimming lessons each day. While the pup is nursing, the mother fasts and may lose up to 200 pounds.