WAIKIKI (KHNL) -- As one of the most endangered marine mammals in America, the fight to save the Hawaiian Monk Seal is going national. Hawaiian monk seals, like those at the Waikiki Aquarium, could be extinct by the end of this century.
Charles Littnan studies the monk seals and has gained the nickname of Monk Seal Man.
"If your at the top, you are the first alarm bell for problems with the ecosystem. We're going to notice things going wrong with the monk seal because there is something wrong with the environment," he said.
The endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal is in critical condition and critics say not enough is being done to protect these fragile mammals.
Bill Chandler of the Marine Conservation Biology Institute says "There are about 20 or 25 of those threatened or endangered species and congress said that we were supposed to have protected those animals thirty years ago and were still not putting out enough of our tax dollars to do that unfortunately. The Stellar Sea Lion in Alaska is getting seven million dollars this year while the Monk Seal gets two, and it's less endangered."
The 1,100 Monk Seals here in Hawaii are declining in population by 4% a year and researchers still don't know why.
"We need to make sure that the resources are there to carry out the recovery plan," Littnan said. "It is a treasure of Hawaii and that all of us working together, it's the only way that we're are going to recover the species."
By 2025, the population of Monk Seals could be half what it is now if the Federal Government doesn't start funding the protection of these creatures.