Year of the Monk Seal EmblemIn commemoration of 10 years since the publication of the revised Recovery Plan for the Hawaiian Monk Seal, NOAA announced that 2017 is the “Year of the Monk Seal”.  This campaign includes recovery actions, cutting-edge research, and public events targeted at building awareness and momentum for the next 10 years of monk seal recovery.

The Hawaiian monk seal is the Hawaii’s state mammal and are endemic to the Hawaiian Islands archipelago, meaning they are native and exist nowhere else on Earth.  They are protected under the Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act, and Hawaii state law.

The population overall has been declining for over six decades and current numbers are only about one-third of historic population levels, but importantly, the prolonged decline has slowed over the last 10 years.  The most recent annual population assessment shows that the iconic Hawaiian monk seal, bucking past trends, has increased in numbers by 3% annually for the past three years.  The population is now estimated to be around 1,400 seals.

Over the last decade, NOAA Fisheries and Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, along with numerous partners including the Hawai’i Department of Land and Natural Resources, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Coast Guard, have engage in concerted research and recovery efforts to save monk seals, particularly young female seals.

Want to learn more about the Hawaiian Monk Seal and the Year of the Monk Seal?  Visit the Hawaiian Monk Seal Spotlight.   Here you can access a variety of information numerous stories tracking specific seals (including a seal of the month), updates on rehabilitated seals, news, and access to management plans and other resources.

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