Monk Seal Research Continues Across Hawaiian Archipelago

Monk seal field camp at Pearl and Hermes Reef.
Monk seal field camp at Pearl and Hermes Reef.

Researchers at PIFSC are engaged in studies to monitor populations of endangered Hawaiian monk seals in the main Hawaiian Islands and Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. The staff of the Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program has continued to execute a community-based research project in the main Hawaiian Islands, Hoike a maka, to better understand monk seal diet and foraging behavior. The project uses National Geographic Crittercams, cellphone tags, and 3-axis accelerometers to observe the prey, feeding behavior, and foraging locations of monk seals and to estimate the seals' energetic costs and requirements. The research team deployed 3 camera systems on seals on Kauai and Molokai in early 2013.

In the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, PIFSC researchers plan to deploy field camps for approximately 8 weeks at French Frigate Shoals, Laysan Island, and Pearl and Hermes Reef. A short camp will be set up at Lisianski Island. Personnel from the State of Hawaii are monitoring seals at Kure Atoll and intervening to enhance seal welfare and survival when necessary and possible.