Hawaiian monk seal population growing in Northwestern Hawaiian i - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Hawaiian monk seal population growing in Northwestern Hawaiian islands

Photo Courtesy NOAA Fisheries Pacific Island Region Photo Courtesy NOAA Fisheries Pacific Island Region

By Kristine Tofte

There has been a significant increase in the number of monk seal births in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

A total of 148 monk seal babies have been born so far this year.

The first year of life for a monk seal pup is very critical. But the juvenile survival rate has also increased. Almost three quarters of pups born last year did survive this year. Scientist have not seen numbers this high since 1989.

While most places across the tropics have seen a negative effects from this year's El Nino.

The El Nino conditions here in Hawaii helped a large ocean front called the Transition Zone Chlorophyll Front (TZCF) to reach further south. The TZCF brought in an increase in the amount of productivity, which is expected to provide more food for juvenile seals one to two years from now.

Field personnel conducted all together 49 life-saving interventions this summer, including helping seven malnourished monk seals. The seven monk seals were brought to the Ke Kai Ola monk seal hospital for rehabilitation. Two of the seals, 'Pearl' and 'Hermes', were just released back to their home.

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