NOAA's annual monk seal population count has a promising outlook - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

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NOAA's annual monk seal population count has a promising outlook

(Image: Shawn Tobey) (Image: Shawn Tobey)
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

There's some good news for the Hawaiian monk seal population.

According to NOAA's annual monk seal population update, the seal count is on the upswing. 

In 2017, there were close to 1,400 seals counted across the species range throughout Hawaii and the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

NOAA says it was an especially good year for pups with 161 monk seal pups counted.

Since 2013, the monk seal population has grown a steady 2 percent. 

"While recent population growth offers encouraging signs that strong conservation efforts can lead to progress, the monk seal population remains just over one-third of historic (1950s) levels. This highlights the importance of continued dedication to aid the recovery of this unique Hawaiian species," NOAA said in the study.

[Related article: This is the cute Hawaiian monk seal calendar you didn't know you needed (until now)]

The species does still face many threats in the wild, researchers say. 

From predatory threats like sharks, to a lack of food, the species is in a constant battle with it's surroundings. NOAA also says fishing debris and plastics in the water are one major man-made cause of monk seal deaths. 

NOAA continues their monk seal monitoring program and works to rescue injured or entangled animals. To report an entangled animal, call the Marine Mammal Hotline at 888-256-9840.

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