International Collaboration for the Conservation of Monk Seals Workshop

July 31, 2015
Monk seal workshop banner.
Monk seal workshop participants.
Monk seal workshop participants.

On April 6-17, the Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program hosted an international workshop at the NOAA Inouye Regional Center to collaborate on all aspects of the biology and conservation for both Hawaiian and Mediterranean monk seals. Nine Mediterranean monk seal colleagues hailing from Greece, Spain, Portugal and Mauritania joined Hawaiian monk seal scientists for a week of presentations, discussions, field trips, and even necropsy training. The range of topics included basic biology, population monitoring, gaps in knowledge and efforts and challenges in filling these gaps, and the threats and current and potential mitigation efforts to recover these species. Discussions from this workshop highlighted the many commonalities and also distinct differences between the two species and even within the same species, particularly between the Mediterranean and Atlantic populations of Mediterranean monk seals. The second week of the workshop changed focus and venue to the island of Molokai where the international collaborators participated in Hawaiian monk seal field surveys and the instrumentation of two seals with National Geographic Crittercams to study the seal's aquatic behavior. The workshop provided a unique opportunity to talk about everything monk seal and even more importantly, fostered key collaborations among the participants for future work to recover both species!