Hawaiian monk seal is the new state mammal

Published: Jun. 12, 2008 at 3:30 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 25, 2008 at 6:49 PM HST
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Lieutenant Governor Duke Aiona
Lieutenant Governor Duke Aiona
David Schofield
David Schofield

By Tracy Gladden - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - A new bill was signed into law Thursday and it protects one of the world's most endangered species.

The Hawaiian monk seal gets a new title, Hawaii's state mammal.

The new law signed by Lieutenant Governor Duke Aiona propels the Monk Seal to the same status as the Humpback Whale.

"I'm just hoping that this will re-energize all of us the citizens here in Hawaii as well as people around the world to become better stewards of our monk seal population and the repopulation of it all," said Lieutenant Governor James 'Duke' Aiona.

"They've been around for 13 or 14 million years they are older than the Big Island," said NOAA's Marine Mammal Response Coordinator David Schofield.

With only a little more than one thousand left, the main Hawaiian Islands are instrumental in the recovery of the Monk Seal.

"While the population of on the whole is declining by 4% per year, here in the main Hawaiian Islands the Monk Seals seem to be doing very well they are fat the moms are really big," Schofield said. "We've had a banner year for pupping events here in the main Hawaiian Islands were up to twelve so far this year we actually have three here on Oahu."

And that's because there are more volunteers than ever before.

The new status should increase funding for protecting the endangered species and help with the awareness campaign.

Our partners in the Earth and Sea Project NOAA took part in Thursday's ceremony.