Hawaii Biological Survey's


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40. Hawaiian Monk Seal / sila hawai`i or

Scientific name: Monarchus schauinslandi

Classification: Phylum: Chordata. Class: Mammalia.

Origin: Native

Status: USFWS Endangered

Distribution: Northwestern Hawaiian Islands; rare sightings on the main Hawaiian Islands

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Only 2 species of monk seals survive in the world today. One lives in the remote areas of the Mediterranean Sea, and the other lives in the Leeward chain of the Hawaiian Islands. A third species used to inhabit the Caribbean, but was forced to extinction in the 1950s by the increased human use of the seal’s habitat.

The food of the monk seal consists of eels, small octopus, and reef fish, which are caught at night. During the day, the monk seal rests on isolated beaches and rock ledges.

   Photo by George Balasz