Monachus schauinslandi is the only true seal to live in tropical waters all year round. It is usually found around uninhabited islands of the Hawaiian Archipelago. To cope with this, it have some adaptations to living in a warm climate. These include being active mainly at night, and spending the day hauled out on beaches. It feeds on a variety of different prey items, such as fish, eels, and octopus.
Numbers of M. schauinslandi have been declining for a long time, and it was hunted intensively during the 1800s. Pollution causes the seals to become entangled in fishing nets, and a lack of food are believed to be the main threats to this species.
M. schauinslandi has been protected under the United States Endangered Species List since 1976. It is also monitored by the National Marine Fisheries Service, which surveys breeding colonies to find out the size of the population. In 2000, the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve was created to try to protect this species further.
Marine mammals are charismatic and iconic animals, particularly in the Arctic region, where the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service leads cooperative programs for wildlife conservation in partnership with Russia’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.
The bilateral cooperation between the U.S. and Russia supports a wide range of animals from native waterfowl to shared marine life. Marine mammals, particularly polar bears, walrus, and sea otters, are a major focus of this cooperation, conducted through the Wildlife Without Borders - Russia program, and the Service’s Alaska Marine Mammals Management Office.
Note: U.S.-Russia cooperation in the management of polar bears is conducted under a separate mechanism. For more information visit the Alaska Marine
The Hawaiian monk seal, known as “Ilioholoikauaua” or “dog that runs in rough water”, is found primarily on the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. They’re one of the most endangered marine mammals on the earth today, with fewer than 1,300 left. Their populations are declining at a rate of 4% a year. Living on the remote Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, they spend most of their time in coral reefs foraging for lobster, fish and octopus.
Today, these precious creatures are dying of starvation and many are sick, injured and orphaned. They’re threatened by fishing gear, disease and shark predation. But global warming is the biggest harm to Hawaiian monk seals; sea levels are rising and erosion on Hawaii’s Northwest Islands is making their habitat vulnerable.
In the next five years, it’s estimated their population will plummet to less than 1,000. Stand with organizations like The Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance in urging the U.S. government to protect the Hawaiian monk seal from extinction…
NMFS Denies Ribbon Seal Endangered Species Listing
The federal government has rejected an endangered species listing for a seal species that relies on sea ice for molting and reproducing.
The National Marine Fisheries Service announced Tuesday that it has rejected listing ribbon seals as a threatened or endangered species despite evidence that its habitat is impacted by climate change.
Ribbon seals are found in the Bering and Chukchi (Chuk-CHEE’) seas off Alaska and in the Sea of Okhotsk (oh-KOTSK’) off Russia. They are not in danger of disappearing under the time limits required for listing in the Endangered Species Act, a spokeswoman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.
"NOAA’s status review concluded that the anticipated threats to ribbon seals, primarily from reductions in sea ice and disrupted prey communities, will result in a gradual decline in ribbon seal population abundance," said Julie Speegle in the announcement. “However, this decline is not expected to render the species in danger of extinction within the foreseeable future."…
Adults reach 2.6 m in length and weigh an estimated 200-300 kg. Neonates are thought to be at least 1.1 m and 20-40 kg. The mean age of sexual maturity in females varies from 2.5 to 4.2 years and these variations may be related to changes in food abundance. Births occur mainly during the second half of October.
The distribution of crabeater seals is tied to seasonal fluctuations of the pack ice. They can be found right up to the coast of Antarctica, as far south as McMurdo Sound, during late summer ice break-up. They occur in greatest numbers in the seasonally shifting pack ice surrounding the Antarctic continent. As vagrants they travel as far north as New Zealand and the southern coasts of Africa, Australia, and South America.
Crabeater seals feed primarily on Antarctic krill, Euphausia superba and 95% of their diet is made up of this species. Small amounts of fish and squid are also part of the diet. All of the post-canine teeth are ornate, with multiple accessory cusps that interlock to form a network for straining krill from the seawater. A ridge of bone on each mandible fills the gap in the mouth behind the last upper post-canine teeth and the back of the jaw, which helps prevent the loss of krill from the mouth when feeding. Crabeater faeces are routinely a pinkish red, from their krill diet and reddish stains are frequently seen on the ice near where they are hauled-out…
A harbor seal floats amidst a kelp forest in this dreamy image shot off the coast near San Diego, Calif. This image took best overall in the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science 2013 underwater photography contest, which is open to amateur photographers everywhere.
Weddell seals (Leptonychotes weddellii) are the only mammal that dares to swim long distances under sea ice, traveling up to 20 kilometers in hour-long bursts as they scan for air holes and an eventual exit somewhere in the midst of vast Antarctic sheets.
There, mothers give birth so that their pups will be safe from leopard seals and killer whales. But how do those pups learn to navigate the risky underwater terrain so quickly? They’re born with big brains, according to a study published online and in an upcoming issue of Marine Mammal Science…