Protected Resources Division

population and threats

Seen a Monk Seal?

cute seal

Report your seal sighting

Have you seen a Hawaiian monk seal on the beach or in the ocean? NOAA Fisheries Service is interested in all seal sightings as they help us gain valuable information about seal survival, habitat use and reproduction.

To report monk seal sightings:
Oahu: (808) 220-7802
Kauai: (808) 651-7668
Molokai: (808) 553-5555
Maui/Lanai: (808) 292-2372
Island of Hawaii: (808) 987-0765

To report stranded / entangled marine mammals:

Learn more about the marine mammal response network

Legal protections

The Hawaiian monk seal was listed as an endangered species pursuant to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) on November 23, 1976 (41 FR 51612) and remains listed as endangered. In that same year, the Hawaiian monk seal was designated as "depleted" under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). Both the ESA and MMPA have mechanisms to encourage management for population growth and recovery and to prohibit any form of monk seal "take," except for limited exceptions authorized under federal permits.

The MMPA prohibits the "take" of marine mammals. "Take" includes actions such as hunting, harassing, killing, capturing, injuring and disturbing a marine mammal.

The ESA prohibits the "take" of a threatened or endangered species in US territorial waters. Under the ESA, "take" means to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, collect or attempt to engage in any such conduct.

Monk Seal viewing guidelines

Protect the Hawaiian monk seal, let sleeping seals lie

If you are fortunate enough to see a seal on the beach or in the water in Hawaii, remember to watch from a distance ... for your safety and their protection.

The seal population in the main Hawaiian Islands is naturally increasing (learn more about the monk seal population status across its range) and we are lucky to have the opportunity to view monk seals, sea turtles and dolphins in the wild. It is not uncommon to share the surf with sea turtles or to share the beach with a monk seal. However, it is a privilege that comes with responsibility. Responsible wildlife viewing helps to ensure your safety and their protection and long-term survival in the wild.

Marine animals such as monk seals, sea turtles and dolphins are part of the identity of the islands and hold a special place in the minds and hearts of the people of Hawaii. While viewing marine animals, you should ensure that your actions do not disturb the animals you are observing. Since an animal's reaction will vary, carefully observe all animals and leave the vicinity if you see possible signs of disturbance.

Cautiously move away if you observe the following monk seal behaviors indicating it has been disturbed:

Monk Seal and Fishery Interaction Guidelines

Do you encounter seals while fishing or want to know what you should do if you encounter or hook a monk seal while fishing? Please see the documents listed below for more information.

More Information