The Hawaiian Monk Seal is a species of earless seal. The Ancient Hawaiians called them "Ilio-holo-i-ka-uaua", which roughly translates to "dog that runs on water". With only an estimated 1,100 left they are considered to be one of the most endangered species on the planet.

Males grow to be about 7 feet long and can weigh up to 400 pounds. Females are predominantly larger growing up to 8 feet weighing in at 400-600 pounds.

It's torpedo shaped body is built to hunt for a wide variety of prey. They feed mainly on fish, eels, crustaceans, and cephalopods. Monk seals have been recorded to dive to depths of 1500 feet. On average they hold their breath for approximately 6 minutes, but are able to last for 20 minutes.


Hawaiian Monk seals are endemic to the Hawaiian Islands. A majority of the population live in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. However the population around the main Hawaiian Islands has been steadily growing.

The Hawaiian Monk Seal, along with the Hawaiian Hoary Bat are the only mammals that are endemic to the Hawaiian Islands. The Hawaiian Hoary Bat is also considered to be endangered.


The Hawaiian Monk Seal and the Mediterranean Monk Seal are the only remaining species of monk seals left on the planet. A third species, the Caribbean Monk Seal was officially declared extinct in 2008.

The biggest threat facing the Hawaiian Monk Seal today is human encroachment. The natural habitat size of the monk seal is in decline as the human population of Hawai'i grows. Disturbing monk seals as they are resting is a threat to the vitality of monk seals. A tired seal is an easy meal for a tiger shark. Please see below on the do's and don'ts upon spotting a resting monk seal.

bulldozer on beach



If you spot a seal, the best thing to do is to call it in:

  • Oahu: (808) 220-7802
  • Kauai: (808) 651-7668
  • Maui/Lanai: (808) 292-2372
  • Molokai: (808) 553-5555
  • East Hawaii: (808) 756-5961
  • West Hawaii: (808) 987-0765

Credits and Sources

Star Advertiser

Bridal Dream Hawaii


Aloha From 808

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