DIAMOND HEAD (KHNL) - Saturday, the annual Hawaiian monk seal count was held statewide. Monk seals are often spotted on Hawaii's beaches lying in the sand, but that could change in the future.
The number of monk seals is declining at a rate of about 4 percent a year and experts say pretty soon these playful creatures could become extinct if measures aren't taken to protect their population. Representative Kymberly Pine ( R- Ewa Beach, Iroquois Point, Pu'uloa) said, "We really wanted to bring awareness to the people of Hawaii that these are very precious animals to the state of Hawaii and to our history. It's a very sacred animal to many different cultures and we think that it is a very important animal that helps us sustain our environment and the ocean."
David Schofield of NOAA Fisheries added, "We're very concerned about the population just blipping off the screen forever, and the monk seal's been around for nearly 14 million years. It gives a snapshot in time to tell us how the population is doing. Not only the number of seals that we might count today but their body condition."
Today's event aimed to not only count the monk seal population, but also to check-up on its health and well-being. Those fortunate enough to spot a monk seal say we all need to take care of these island residents. Biology student Chelsea Dudoit said, "Just to even be able to see one is pretty cool."