Hawaiian Monk Seal on beach Hawaiian Monk Seal face Hawaiian Monk Seal adult and pup on beach

Hawaiian Monk Seal Research

The Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program (HMSRP) works to enhance the recovery of the Hawaiian monk seal by studying their biology, ecology and natural history. The HMSRP monitors and assesses the six main monk seal reproductive subpopulations in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI) as well as the increasing subpopulation in the main Hawaiian Islands (MHI). In addition, the HMSRP investigates threats to Hawaiian monk seal survival and works to mitigate factors impeding the species recovery. More...


News and Highlights

  • June 16, 2014
    The NOAA Ship Hiʻialakai sailed from Honolulu on June 16, 2014, for a 26-day mission to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI) to monitor and study the endangered Hawaiian monk seal population. As part of the research, the scientific team will conduct trial aerial surveys using Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). More...
  • April 28, 2014
    R1KU is a juvenile female monk seal that was first seen on January 23, 2014 on the remote island of Niʻihau. She was called to our attention by the Robinson family because she had suffered a recent traumatic injury to the right eye. More...
  • April 28, 2014
    The 2014 pupping season is underway, with at least seven pups born; four in the main Hawaiian Islands (MHI) and three more (excluding 1 aborted fetus) in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI). In the MHI, a pup was born on Oʻahu in early January and is now weaned, fat, and healthy. More...
  • April 28, 2014
    To gain insight into the ecology and behavior of seals in the Main Hawaiian Islands (MHI), seals have been instrumented with National Geographic Crittercams (animal borne video cameras) along with a suite of other instruments including GPS tags and three-dimensional inertial motion sensors (OpenTags). The goal is to understand and share images of feeding and underwater behavior, and lay to rest many of the myths and misconceptions regarding monk seals and their impact on the marine environment and its resources. More...
  • April 28, 2014
    In ongoing efforts to increase survival of female seals, six weaned pups were translocated 360 miles from French Frigate Shoals (FFS) to Laysan Island onboard the NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette in September 2013. This was the second consecutive year female weaned pups were directly translocated from FFS to Laysan, where recent yearling survival rates were relatively higher than at FFS. More...
  • April 28, 2014
    Barbara Mayer, a US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) volunteer and also a retired school teacher, organized a program last summer to connect local schools with scientists in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI) on board the NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette. Barbara provided the students background information on the habitat, wildlife and living conditions in the NWHI and also did a hands-on project of sifting monk seal feces (chocolate pudding) to see what monk seals eat. More...

Recent Staff Publications

  • July 22, 2014
    Geographic variation of persistent organic pollutants in Hawaiian monk seals Monachus schauinslandi in the main Hawaiian Islands
    Lopez J, Hyrenbach KD, Littnan C, Ylitalo GM
    [2014] Endangered Species Research 24: 249-262. DOI: 10.3354/esr00602
  • January 16, 2014
    Range-wide movement patterns of Hawaiian monk seals
    Johanos TC, Harting AL, Wurth TA, Baker JD
    [2014] Marine Mammal Science 30(3): 1165-1174. DOI: 10.1111/mms.12084
  • November 25, 2013
    Validation and application of noninvasive glucocorticoid and thyroid hormone measures in free-ranging Hawaiian monk seals
    Gobush KS, Booth RK, Wasser SK
    [2014] General and Comparative Endocrinology 195: 174-182. DOI: 10.1016/j.ygcen.2013.10.020
  • August 21, 2013
    Estimation of Hawaiian monk seal consumption in relation to ecosystem biomass and overlap with fisheries in the main Hawaiian Islands
    Sprague R, Littnan C, Walters J
    [2013] U.S. Dept. of Commerce, NOAA Technical Memorandum NOAA-TM-NMFS-PIFSC-37, 42 p. + Appendices
  • June 20, 2013
    A two-stage translocation strategy for improving juvenile survival of Hawaiian monk seals
    Baker JD, Harting AL, Littnan CL
    [2013] Endangered Species Research 21: 33-44. DOI: 10.3354/esr00506
  • April 27, 2013
    Dietary comparison of two Hawaiian monk seal populations: the role of diet as a driver of divergent population trends
    Cahoon MK, Littnan CL, Longenecker K, Carpenter JR
    [2013] Endangered Species Research 20: 137-146. DOI: 10.3354/esr00491