Monk seals and the 2016 NOAA Fisheries Science Camp

August 31, 2016  

NOAA Fisheries Science Camp Pacific Islands Region logo

A student reviews Crittercam footage to observe monk seal aquatic behavior.
A student reviews Crittercam footage to observe monk seal aquatic behavior.

The 3rd annual NOAA Fisheries 2016 Science Camp was hosted at the NOAA Daniel K. Inouye Regional Center on Ford Island during the 3rd week in July with nearly 40 participants — all students who had just completed 7th grade. Staff from the Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program conducted the ever-popular monk seal module, "Hawaiian Monk Seal Crittercam: A Seal-Eyed View".

Students initially learned about the basic biology and history of Hawaiian monk seals and then developed hypotheses on the seals' foraging habits and behaviors. To test these hypotheses, students worked in teams and reviewed real footage from video cameras mounted on monk seals. The data from all the student teams were combined to see how their unexpected results compared to their original hypotheses. Students were also surprised to learn that monk seals did more than forage below the surface — some seals even slept underwater, returning to the surface to breath and returning back underwater to continue their napping!

In response to the question "If you could tell your friends and family one thing about camp, what would it be?", one of the enthusiastic campers had the following comment about the monk seal module:

"...I would tell them about the very interesting technology NOAA uses to study marine science. My favorite was the monk seal Crittercam. I felt like a real scientist and it was cool to discover for myself about what the monk seals do."