Budget Constraints Limit Hawaiian Monk Seal Research in NWHI

A Crittercam was attached to this Hawaiian monk seal as part of ongoing studies to learn about the pelagic foraging behavior and 
               ecology of the species in the main Hawaiian Islands.
A Crittercam was attached to this Hawaiian monk seal as part of ongoing studies to learn about the pelagic foraging behavior and ecology of the species in the main Hawaiian Islands.

In most years, funding levels have enabled PIFSC scientists to conduct comprehensive surveys of the endangered Hawaiian monk seal at the six major breeding sites across the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI). However, because of budget cutbacks in 2013, researchers in the Center's Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program have been able to fully survey only three of the NWHI sites this year. At the other three breeding locations, the limitation on resources resulted in either a shortened field season or monitoring by PIFSC research partners working at these sites, including employees of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and State of Hawaii. Besides monitoring of seal abundance and age composition, the NWHI field work involved recovery and intervention activities. In addition, research to mitigate shark predation at French Frigate Shoals was continued by PIFSC staff and their colleagues from the NOAA Fisheries Pacific Islands Regional Office. Finally, deworming of young seals was continued at several atolls and the seals were translocated to Laysan in September.

In August, monk seal program staff along with partners National Geographic, The Marine Mammal Center, Duke University, and the UH Sea Grant College Program hosted a public lecture and video screening. The video debut featured footage from Crittercams deployed on monk seals in the MHI. The event at the Doris Duke Theatre in Honolulu was attended by 280 people. In addition to its value in helping to educate the public about foraging habits of monk seals, the video will be used by research staff to gain insight into the ecology and behavior of seals in the MHI.