The federal government has significantly expanded the critical habitat for endangered Hawaiian monk seals to include beaches and waters of the main Hawaiian Islands. The seals are among the most endangered of the world's marine mammals, numbering fewer than 1200.
Previously, the critical habitat was limited to the remote and largely uninhabited Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, where it was first established in 1986. Seal pups have only about a 1 in 5 chance to survive to adulthood. About 80 to 100 seals live in the main Hawaiian Islands, where they have higher survival rates.
The Hawaiian Monk Seal's Hawaiian name is Ilio holo kai. It means the dog who runs the sea.
The new habitat designation means greater protection under the Endangered Species Act, and limits federal government activities, which must undergo reviews to ensure they do not harm the seal or the habitat. "It will give this species a fighting chance," said Vicki Cornish, wildlife policy director at Ocean Conservancy. "When we protect critical habitat for monk seals, we are also protecting the larger ocean ecosystem on which we all depend."
Hawaii Kai, and our island chain, are so very lucky to have the wildlife we do. Let's do our part to preserve and protect our heritage.
Barbara Abe, Realtor
(photo courtesy of HawaiiLifeofLuxury)