The seal pictured above was hapai, and just days away from giving birth. Ilio holo I ka uaua are monestrous, meaning that they give birth to a single pup each year. The mom weans the pup after about 40 days, and finally gets to eat, taking to the waters in search of bony fish, squid, octopus and crustaceans. With luck and our kokua, she will live a full life of about 25 years.
That's the translation of: Ilio holo I ka uaua, the name the Hawaiians gave to *Monachus schauinslandi, or the Hawaiian monk seal. This one wasn't frolicking in the seas however; it was hauled up on the beach for a lazy afternoon of sunbathing. We felt lucky to share the beach with this endangered mammal. With a population of around 1000, there are more giant pandas in the wild than there are monk seals in our waters. The majority of the population live in the NorthWest Hawaiian Islands, but there is a population of about 150 in the main islands. Hawaiian monk seals face threats from shark predation, entanglement in marine debris, food limitations, adult male aggression, and human actions.
*Update: May 16, 2014: Recent DNA analysis has placed the Hawaiian monk seal in a new genus: Neomonachus. According to the National Geographic website: "The new branch of the family tree, Neomonachus, means that species of living monk seals are more distantly related than previously thought—and that the stakes for saving the rare creatures are even higher."
welcomes you to visit with the all the wonderful flora and fauna that we share this lovely aina with.