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Monk seal of the month KE18 for September resting on the beach.

This months spotlight shines on KE18, our monk seal of the month!

There are around 1,400 endangered Hawaiian monk seals remaining today.

Hawaiian monk seals are protected under the Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act, and Hawaii state law.

The Hawaiian monk seal is Hawaii's official state mammal.

Hawaiian monk seals are part of a healthy Hawaiian ecosystem.

Hawaiian monk seals are endemic to the Hawaiian Islands archipelago, meaning they are native and exist nowhere else on Earth.

NOAA Fisheries has launched our "Species in the Spotlight: Survive to Thrive" initiative — a concerted, agency-wide, partnership-driven effort to highlight and save eight species identified as highly at-risk for extinction, including the Hawaiian monk seal. To support this initiative, we've developed 5-year Priority Action Plans for these species that focus our recovery actions on immediate, targeted efforts to reverse declining population trends.

Check out the Species in the Spotlight news and resources for the Hawaiian monk seal below, and
click here to download the action plan for this species.


Take Part in the Hawaiian Monk Seal Photo Contest!

Year of the Monk Seal 2017 emblem NOAA Fisheries is pleased to announce its first-ever photo contest to showcase Hawaiian monk seals in a photographic calendar. Enter now for your chance to be featured in the 2018 calendar! Submissions will be accepted from June 13 through September 15, 2017.

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Watch Good Neighbors Video - How to Share Hawaii's Beaches with Endangered Monk Seals


  • Maintain a distance of 150 feet and/or stay behind any protective ropes or signs. It is natural for monk seals to rest on the beach.
  • Never feed seals. It is unsafe and illegal.
  • Do not encourage or get close to monk seals on the beach or in the water. Monk seals are wild animals and will bite.
  • If a seal approaches you, ignore it, move away, and exit the water if necessary. Playful seals become problem seals when encouraged.
  • Keep dogs leashed at all times near monk seals. This prevents injury and disease transmission for both animals.
  • Fish with barbless hooks. Barbless hooks reduce seal injuries.

Read more on how to be a Good Neighbor to Hawaiian monk seals...

24-hour (toll-free) Marine Mammal Stranding and Entanglement Hotline: 1-888-256-9840
Help us by reporting all seal sightings and interactions. Your reports help NOAA Fisheries respond to hooked, or injured seals, track potential harmful seal behavior, and monitor the seal population. Learn about the Pacific Islands Marine Mammal Response Network.


  • Food Limitation
    Limited prey availability is the primary factor attributed to emaciation and poor survival of juvenile monk seals.
  • Human Interactions
    Human actions and activities are diverse and can adversely impact the survival of monk seals.
  • Infectious Diseases, Parasites
    and Toxins

    With a total population of only 1,100 individuals, any disease outbreak or immune system suppression at any of the seals' breeding and pupping locations can have devastating population-level impacts.


  • Enhance survival of female seals, especially juvenile pups born in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
  • Ensure natural population growth and reduce human-seal interactions in the main Hawaiian Islands.
  • Prevent and mitigate disease and build seal health care capacity.
  • Administer a recovery program for maximum effectiveness integration and partnerships.

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Hawaiian monk seal, KE18, in temp holding at the Waikiki Aquarium.

KE18: The Reformed "Bad Boy"

As a young adult, he began aggressively harassing and/or injuring pups and was brought into permanent captivity in 2012 to help improve the survival of the immature seals. Read KE18's story.

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  • Location: Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and the main Hawaiian Islands
  • Listing Status: Endangered
  • Life Expectancy: 4 to 5 years (pup), 25 to 30 years (adult)
  • Size: 6 to 7 feet in length
  • Weight: 400 to 600 lbs (181-272 kg)
  • Habitat: Ocean, atolls, islands and beach areas
  • Diet: Small fishes, squid, octopus, eels and crustaceans (crabs, shrimp, and lobster)
  • Taxonomy: Neomonachus schauinsland
  • Hawaiian name(s): 'Ilio holo i ka uaua ("dog running in the rough seas"), or na mea hulu ("the furry one").
  • More...

Threats and Recovery

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