The Hawaiian monk seal is the most endangered marine mammal in the United States and its range is entirely within U.S. waters. It is the second-most endangered marine mammal on the earth’s entire western hemisphere. The Hawaiian monk seal only lives in Hawaiian waters and they have lived in our waters for millions of years.
In 2015 however, there were only about 1300 of these animals left in the world, all living in the Hawaiian archipelago, with a mere 200 animals living within the main Hawaiian Islands and only about 45 on Oahu. These charismatic animals, called “living fossils” by scientists, have suffered dramatic population decreases over the past 50 years and the species teeters in a critical position, on one side – extinction, and on the other side – the potential for recovery. But you can help!
Hawaii Marine Mammal Alliance (HMMA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and recovery of the Hawaiian monk seal species. HMMA is looking for additional volunteers to help patrol for, or respond to, specific sightings of seals spanning over 300 miles of Oahu and Molokai shoreline. In partnership with NOAA, our field response team members find, identify, access and document monk seal activity to aid NOAA researchers in species recovery research and management. Team members also assist government agencies in animal intervention activity, marine mammal rescue and stranding support so that these animals may be saved, rehabilitated and release to the wild. Volunteers also perform the critical function of public engagement to educate the public about this critically endangered species and to promote responsible viewing, interaction and fishing activity that fosters stewardship and helps in the eventual recovery of the species.
Here’s how you can help. Go to http://www.monkseals.org. Click on “Volunteer Some Time.” If you don’t have time to volunteer, you can make a donation to the cause and your tax deductible contributions help fund HMMA’s important work.