Hawaiian monk seal population update: signs of a fragile recovery

April 15, 2021

Thea Johanos, Research, Marine Biologist, Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program, NOAA Fisheries

The endangered Hawaiian monk seal population is estimated at 1,400 seals, with the majority of the population (1,100) residing within Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Juvenile seal survival is critical to monk seal recovery and has declined in most areas. This presentation focuses on recent impacts to the second largest monk seal population at Lalo (French Frigate Shoals) after the loss of two important pupping islets in 2018. Multiple interventions are conducted each year to increase survival, including disentangling seals caught in marine debris, rescuing seals entrapped in crumbling infrastructure, and translocating pups from areas of high shark predation to safer areas. Thea Johanos will discuss these and other contributions to recovery at both the individual seal and population levels as she prepares for the 2021 field season.