The Hawaiian Monk Seal, Or Monachus Schauinslandi

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The Hawaiian monk seal, or Monachus schauinslandi, was one of the original species to be placed under the Endangered Species Act that was enacted in 1973. As of 2010, the population of the monk seal is approximately 1,100, with an annual decrease of approximately 4.5%. The Hawaiian monk seal is primarily found on the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands that are made up of coral reef atolls, seamounts, banks, and shoals. This is due to the fact that the monk seals primarily forage on the barrier reefs of the atolls, on submerged reefs, and on banks further from the atolls (Curtice et al, 2011). The monk seals are primarily benthic forgers and will search for food in a broad depth range up to 500m and over different substrates (National Marine…show more content…
The population decline in monk seals is due to several different factors with the biggest reason due to the low pup and juvenile survival rates (Curtice et al, 2011). At the Kure Atoll on the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, 32 pups were observed in 1964 and 30 pups were observed in 1965. Of these pups born, all but one died or disappeared within 60 days after birth. This was also seen in the 1970’s at Green Island and Kure Atoll, where a mean population of 17 and 14 seals, respectively, was counted on these beaches, with a birth total of 10 showing a population decline of 70% (Gilmartin et al, 2011). The juvenile survival rate is still seen today with one in five monk seals surviving to the reproductive age, with one year old seals having the highest mortality rates (Norris et al, 2011). One of the reasons this is occurring is due to human interaction. Adult females who are near birth or who have just given birth are very sensitive to disturbance (Gilmartin, Johanos, DeMaster, & Henderson, 2011). In 1960, the U.S. Coast Guard built a station on Green Island that was previously unoccupied to humans, and as a result of this the female monk seals would encounter humans almost daily causing the female monk seals to leave that preferred hauling and birthing sites and go to beaches that were highly affected by flooding, shark predation, and

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